Property market shows signs of cooling as measures take effect

The Republic’s property market met a frosty reception last month as the Government’s cooling measures appear to have tempered demand.

Data released on Friday by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) showed that 911 private homes were sold last month – a 27-per_cent drop compared to August, when 1,259 units changed hands.

The September figure was the second-lowest monthly sales recorded this year. In June, when the World Cup was held, only 847 units were sold.

The latest round of property cooling measures announced at the end of August included barring buyers from owning both a Housing and Development Board flat and a private home within the Minimum Occupation Period.

“The drop is a very clear signal that the measures were having an effect in September,” said Mr Nicholas Mak, executive director of research and consultancy at SLP International.

In the prime districts, only 84 units were sold out of the 109 launched. The city fringes and outlying areas saw 226 and 601 units sold respectively. The most expensive property sold was at the Orchard Residences where a unit went at a median price of $4,258 per square foot.

“The luxury market is still hovering at about 12 to 13 per cent well below peak value, so I think there are some rich pickings in the Singapore market that could be of interest to the regional investors in that sense,” said Cushman & Wakefield managing director Donald Han.

The decline in sales volume is expected to continue. Analysts estimate launches and sales in the fourth quarter to hover between 800 and 1,000 per month. Still, they expect sales for the whole of the year to exceed 14,000 units.

And sentiment will likely improve in the first three months of next year, analysts said.

Looking ahead, buyers would be watching interest rates closely, said Dr Chua Yang Liang, Jones Lang LaSalle’s Head of Research for South-east Asia.

Said Dr Chua: “As total returns compress, interest rates are expected to play a bigger role in influencing buyers’ decisions. The impact of state intervention on home demand and prices may thus be cushioned in light of today’s falling interest rates.”

Source : Today – 16 Oct 2010

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