Hungry for property

Sales of new private homes defied expectations to bounce back strongly last month, as buyers snapped up 1,544 units ahead of the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival which started last Tuesday.

Data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority showed last month’s sales were 82.3 per cent higher than June’s 847 units. This also lifted the total number of private residential units sold in the first seven months of this year to 9,957 – just 43 units short of the 10,000 mark.

For the whole of this year, observers expect sales figures to hit around 13,000 to 15,000 units. Last year, more than 14,700 homes were sold.

Property consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle said developers launched several popular projects to capitalise on the improved sentiment before the Hungry Ghost month.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic real estate lecturer Nicholas Mak added: “There was pent-up supply and demand. The number of units launched and sold in the previous month was quite low.”

In June, a total of 1,010 units were reportedly launched while some 1,335 units were launched last month.

Ms Tay Huey Ying, director for research and advisory at Colliers International, noted that three projects – The Scala, Terrene and 368 Thomson – contributed 59.7 per cent and 46.6 per cent of the total units launched and sold, respectively, in July.

The hottest development was The Scala at Serangoon Avenue 3, of which 400 units were sold at a median price of $1,173 per square foot. Terrene at Bukit Timah registered sales of 162 units at a median price of $1,248 psf while 368 Thomson saw sales of 157 units at a median price of $1,403 psf.

Ms Tay also pointed out that despite the increased demand, buyers are refraining from pricier units, especially those “above $1,500 psf”.

Mass-market homes in the suburban areas continue to lead sales, accounting for 42.8 per cent of developers’ sales in July. Meanwhile, high-end or luxury homes in the Core Central Region were the smallest contributor to last month’s total sales, accounting for only 17.9 per cent.

Industry experts cautioned that sales could slow to between 800 and 1,200 units this month due to the Hungry Ghost month and fears of a double dip recession in the United States.

In Parliament yesterday, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said foreigners accounted for about 13 per cent of all private housing purchases in the first half of the year. He was replying to Nominated Member of Parliament Calvin Cheng who wanted to know how much of the recent increase in property prices could be attributed to foreign buyers.

Source : Today – 17 Aug 2010

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