Private home sales leapt 80% in March from February

There are signs the property market in Singapore might be making an about-turn following its muted start to the year.

Figures released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) show that the number of private homes sold in March leapt 80 per cent from the month before, signalling improved buyer sentiment.

And developers were even more positive. They launched more than 600 units for sale in March – about 85 per cent more than the month before, and the highest in seven months.

Analysts said they expect to see more units being placed on sale in the months to come.

Donald Han, Managing Director of Cushman & Wakefield, Singapore, said: “Moving forward we expect more launches taking place in the second quarter of this year. While there are generally not a slew of new launches, a lot of developers have re-launched their projects. Re-launched in the sense (they) have started to price properties at more realistic levels.

“Early part of year, it’s not too effective to start pricing there. But now we are well into 2008. There are developers who are certainly using pricing to attract more positive sentiment to lure the buyers out.”

Still, developers have some way to go before the property market even begins to resemble that of its heydays last year.

A closer look at the numbers show that most of the increase in sales came from the high-end market where sales jumped 80 per cent, compared to a 31 per cent hop in suburban region sales.

For now, it seems that mass market buyers will still be holding back in hope of better deals to come.

Analysts are also quick to note that the ratio of launches to sales in March still remain at February levels at 47.5 per cent to 46.4 per cent.

Nicholas Mak, Director of Knight Frank, said: “At first glance, it seems like sales figures in March have improved over February. The numbers moved back to about the same level as in January or December. But on closer analysis we find that the take-up has weakened. Typically about 70 to 90 per cent of units launched are sold. Right now that figure has fallen to about 50 per cent, same as February.”

But overall, analysts said the private home market data for March should still put a smile on the faces of those in the industry, given the current economic climate due to the bad news from the US and its ensuing ripple effect worldwide. – CNA/vm

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 15 Apr 2008

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