Fewer private home launches expected during Hungry Ghost Month

The Hungry Ghost Month begins on Sunday (July 27) and observers say the private residential market will likely see fewer launches during that period compared to previous years, in light of current weak buying sentiments.

However, they also say some launches may still take place if developers are confident in their pricing and product offerings.

The seventh month of the lunar calendar, better known as the Hungry Ghost Month, usually falls in late July or August. The property market is typically tepid during this period, as it is traditionally viewed as an inauspicious month to make home purchases.

In 2011 and 2012, the number of new units launched dropped in August from July. The figure rebounded in September in both years.

In 2013, developers launched fewer new units in July compared to August, following the introduction of the Total Debt Servicing Ratio in late June. But the number of new homes launched in September that year surged, in line with past years.

Altogether, the number of new units launched in August over the past three years averaged 1,159 units. Property watchers say that this year’s Ghost Month is likely to see relatively worse numbers.

“Reason being the general sentiment is not as encouraging as previous years. It is inevitable and I think developers would rather time their launches at the right moment to leave a good impression with buyers,” said Daniel Teu, associate division director of the Dennis Wee Group.

“Today, sales momentum is very important,” added Eugene Lim, key executive officer of ERA Realty Network.

“Any new project that you have, you need to build the momentum and you cannot have any element of risk that will slow the momentum down. The initial launch stage is very important. I think no developer will want to take that risk today to roll out a major project during the ghost month.”

Some observers believe property agents may find some reprieve in the rental market during this lull period as home owners are less likely to view leasing of properties as inauspicious.

Real estate agencies such as the Dennis Wee Group have put in measures to help its agents cope after measures to cool the property market were introduced.

The company has pumped in about S$400,000 since 2010 to develop new training curriculums which touch on new sales tactics and market knowledge. It is also subsidising agents’ marketing efforts on online platforms.

“Most agents dealing with private residential housing have also reviewed their profiles… expanded beyond their current portfolio to cover other sectors such as the public housing, commercial, industry and even the overseas market,” said Mr Teu.

ERA Realty Network is also training its agents to use social media tools to reach out to potential clients.

“Today you cannot be sitting around waiting for the customer to come to you. You have to go out to them. So there is more direct engagement, more active marketing on the ground. The days of just relying on advertisements and waiting for calls are over,” said Mr Lim.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 26 Jul 2014

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