Private home sales dip slightly in April

Private home sales in Singapore dipped slightly in April, but remained above the 1,000-unit mark for the third straight month.

Latest figures from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) showed that 1,207 units changed hands, about one per cent shy of the number of sales transactions in March (1,220 units).

Demand for new private residential properties picked up recently because of lower home prices and expectations that the economy is recovering.

The recent rally in the stock markets has also helped. Some market watchers say a few investors may have taken profit and parked their funds in more stable investment options like real estate.

But some say the sales momentum may not last.

Chua Yang Liang, Head of Research and Consultancy, Jones Lang LaSalle, said: “(I’m) looking at somewhere between 2,000 and 2,400 units that were pent up collectively over in the month of October, November, December and January.

“Unless there’s a fundamental growth in the real economy, this pent up demand, the residual effect may not sustain the property market in the long haul.”

Suburban areas continued to shine, with Mi Casa in Choa Chu Kang, Double Bay in Simei, Kovan Residences accounting for 298 units of total sales. The Arte at Thomson, which is located on the city’s fringe, was also popular, with 110 deals sealed.

In April, developers placed 1,083 new units for sale, up from the 832 launched the previous month.

Industry players say the momentum is starting to filter from the mass market segment to the mid-tier one, which comprises properties costing between S$900 and S$1,300 per square foot. They also expect to see more activity in the luxury home segment in the next few months.

High-end property launches jumped nearly four-fold on-month in April to 339, making up a third of all units offered. Sales in the prime areas soared to a 19-month high of 322 units.

Donald Han, Managing Director, Cushman and Wakefield Singapore, said: “We are going to see more launches potentially in the core central area, in district 9, 10 and part of 11, particularly for some of the collective enbloc sales which have been bought by developers.

“Some of them are pretty much ready to be launched – they’ve got their showflats ready. So there will be more launches in these prime areas, as part of strategies for developers to test waters for the mid- and upper-end residential market.”

Looking ahead, analysts say developers may not raise prices but rather reduce the discounts offered.

On the whole, prices of private homes are expected to fall by a single digit percentage point range for the next few quarters.

Market watchers project that some 6,000 units will be sold this year if the economic conditions stabilise.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 15 May 2009

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