Sales of new private residential homes fall by 64% in August

Sales of new private residential homes slipped 64 per cent to 320 units in August, as compared to over 890 units sold in July. Market watchers say this is the weakest transaction volume since April 2008.

At the peak of the property boom in August 2007, over 1,700 units of private homes were sold, and the 320 units sold in August 2008 was 81 per cent lower year-on-year.

However, the low take-up was not unexpected as the Hungry Ghosts’ Festival fell during that month – a season typically marked by sluggish demand.

Supply was also tight, with only 194 new units launched by developers in August, mainly in the central regions.

Head of research & consultancy at Jones Lang LaSalle, Dr Chua Yang Liang, said: “There is a latent demand out there which we estimate is between 350 to 400 units per month.

“The number of launches are incidentally quite good in the rest of central and the core central regions as these are largely foreign-based markets, so there is a lot more transactions there.”

Industry watchers are predicting more mass market projects to be launched in the fourth quarter, with some good quality units and attractive prices expected.

The recent reduction in development charges by the government could also rally the property sector.

Managing director of Cushman & Wakefield, Donald Han, said: “In the next six months, we probably expect some of the land (the) government tenders to be able to record lower prices.

“That may help developers to start creeping into the market on the basis of slight savings of land prices, (and it) may go a long way in subsidising the increase in terms of your construction cost.”

Price-wise, observers say the numbers have remained fairly stable in August. Moving forward, they project a slight downward correction in overall home prices of between 3 and 8 per cent.

Analysts say the weakening global financial markets and inflation have cast a shadow over consumer confidence. Still, they expect the current market trend to hold, over the next few months.

Although the credit and housing troubles in the US show no sign of bottoming out, observers say Singapore’s property sector will be able to weather the storm in the near term.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 15 Sep 2008

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