Slow start for walk-in-and-buy phase of Centrale 8

It was a slow start to the first weekend of the walk-in-and-buy phase of the most expensive Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flats to hit the market.

When MediaCorp visited the showroom of Centrale 8 on Saturday at 6pm, around 20 families were viewing the project. A board which listed the availability of the 708 units in the project, said around 35 per cent of the flats have been sold since the project was opened for sale.

Potential buyers that MediaCorp spoke to said they were at the showroom to see if prices have fallen further and were cautious about selecting a flat because of the high prices.

40-year-old Zack Henry said: “It (Centrale 8) is near the MRT and Tampines Mall but the flats are expensive. I might as well go for an Executive Condominium (EC).”

Another potential buyer, who only wanted to be known as Mr Wong, said: “The price is high but it is not a private property. It is a Housing Development Board (HDB) project with HDB restrictions and there are no other amenities.”

“We like the project because of the location. But if the price remains high, we’ll just stay out.”

Centrale 8, developed by the Sim Lian Group, made the news last month with a record asking price of S$880,000 for a DBSS flat, triggering an outcry that the price was nearly that of executive condominiums.

Property analysts said they are surprised at the low take-up rate and said the negative publicity about the high prices of the project may have affected buyers’ sentiments.

SLP International’s head of research, Mr Nicholas Mak, said: “They have to find out why sales is slow and address the problem…if sales slow down, it’s difficult to regenerate interest in the project.”

He added: “Usually during the first weekend when sales is opened to public, there is an overwhelming response in the showroom.”

Mr Mak said when faced with slow sales, developers could reduce prices and increase the value of the flats by providing finishes, like marble instead of tiles.

Dennis Wee Group director Chris Koh said: “The government announcements to review the DBSS and EC schemes, and Sim Lian’s high prices could cause some to take a step back – and wait and see.”

He noted that if Sim Lian decreased its flat prices now, he will be “concerned for those who have already bought.”

“And it affects the creditability of the company. So it’s not about cutting prices. It is about winning back the confidence of buyers. We may have to wait a while to better gauge the response.”

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 11 Jul 2011