Sales in private residential market dip in April

Sales in the private residential market have dipped in April after a mild recovery in March.

According to the numbers of private home sales released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), only 274 units were sold last month – down from 301 units in March.

Developers were also holding back, with only 271 units launched in April – the lowest number of units since market weakness surfaced in September last year.

Analysts said they expect the market to continue moving gingerly.

Homebuyers in the mass market are keeping the numbers moving along as nine out of every 10 units sold in April were in the suburban areas. This belies the overall cautious stance that homebuyers are taking.

Chua Chor Hoon, Senior Director of Research, DTZ Debenham Tie Leung, said: “Speculation is almost nil. Most buyers we see in the market are probably those buying for owner occupation, with needs for accommodation.”

With buying and selling almost at a standstill, analysts said the ball is now in the developers’ court.

Colin Tan, Director of Research & Consultancy, Chesterton International, said: “Looking forward, you can see that in order to raise their sales, developers will need to price their units more realistically. As you can see from the April figures, those that have done so are being rewarded with higher sales.”

But the URA figures also show that prices remain firm for high-end units and developers for those units are choosing to wait out.

“Developers are still holding back launches, especially for bigger projects and those at higher end range. What we see are mostly launches in suburban areas with units priced below S$1,000 psf,” Mr Chua said.

While the latest data may seem to provide more evidence of a weak housing market, analysts said numbers are very thin and have cautioned against reading too deeply into them as they could be potentially misleading. – CNA/so

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 15 May 2008

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