March property sales up in still-cautious market

THE DOMESTIC property market is expected to remain cautious even after an increase in sales and launches last month.

Some 322 private residential units were sold in March, a 70-per-cent increase from the 189 in February, according to data released yesterday by the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

A total of 642 new units were offered for sale by developers last month, up 87.17 per cent from 343 in February, the data showed.

CBRE Research’s executive director Li Hiaw Ho said although the number of new private homes sold was higher and signalled “an increase in activity”, the “overall mood of the market was still cautious”.

According to CBRE, 787 new private homes were sold in the first quarter this year, or about half of the 1,449 units in the previous quarter.

CBRE forecasts sales volume will exceed 1,000 units next quarter, with prices “expected to hold or improve marginally”.

Mr Nicholas Mak, Knight Frank’s director for its consultancy and research department, said the typical ratio of new sales to the number of units launched would be 90 to 100 per cent in a buoyant market environment.

Knight Frank expects the sales volume to remain low in the coming few months due to continuing uncertainty over the United States economic outlook and volatility in the financial markets.

“Homebuyers, especially in the mass market segment, are expected to remain cautious until there is a sustained recovery in the financial markets and economic conditions, which would spill over to the property market,” Mr Mak said.

Developers are likely to launch their projects slowly in the next few months as they gauge market sentiment.

Source: Today – 16 Apr 2008

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