Executive condos continue to be in hot demand

Executive condominiums continue to see strong demand from home buyers who have been shut out of the public housing market until recently.

Austville Residences in Sengkang, the latest development for sale and the fourth EC to have been launched after a five-year hiatus, had a queue of some 150 home buyers and their families forming even before doors opened for booking yesterday morning.

One reason: A first-come-first-served system to allocate the 540 units, unlike the previous three ECs, which used balloting.

Early birds arrived on Wednesday and waited overnight to get a shot at choice units. Some came prepared with mats and chairs, others simply stood in line. By 9am, the line had snaked past the showroom.

The first couple in line, who declined to be interviewed, said they arrived at 3pm on Wednesday.

Mr Levan Heng, who arrived three hours later and was seventh in line, said he was attracted to Austville because his parents and in-laws live nearby.

“I’ve already applied for a Build-To-Order flat and I’ve in fact paid some money – like $2,000. But I was thinking I might even forfeit that to get this,” he said.

Property developer United Engineers said it decided on a first-come-first-served system because balloting left too much to chance for genuine buyers. It declined to disclose first-day sales numbers.

Project director Chua Kien Pin said: “We have keen buyers who have aspirations for, maybe, a unit on a high storey or good spacing. They’re not really well taken care of in a balloting system. In a queue system, buyers can come early and get what they want.”

Market watchers were not surprised by the queue for Austville, whose units are priced at $680 per sq ft on average.

Dennis Wee Group director Chris Koh said: “There’s quite a group of people who can’t afford private property, but then their salary is above $8,000, so they can’t buy Housing and Development Board flats either.”

He added that Austville has good attributes, such as proximity to the Light Rail Transit and a shopping centre.

With ECs available to households with a maximum income of $10,000, Mr Koh said: “You can say it’s a long route to owning a private property. If you aspire to own a private property today but can’t afford one, perhaps choose an EC and, in the years to come, when it gets privatised, you benefit.”

Since ECs were relaunched, sales have been good. Esparina, which was launched in October, has seen a 92-per-cent take-up rate for its 573 units.

For the Canopy, rolled out in the same month, this figure stands at almost 60 per cent, while Prive in Punggol, which was launched last month, has reached its 75-per-cent mark.

Three EC sites in Choa Chu Kang, Tampines and Punggol will be up for tender in the first half of this year under the Government’s Land Sale Programme.

Source : Today – 14 Jan 2011

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