Showflats still busy, but sales slower

A LACKLUSTRE response to property launches at the weekend indicates that home buyers have turned cautious, with many taking longer to make up their minds.

Property cooling measures and general economic uncertainty are being keenly felt, with new sales slowing significantly compared to previous launches.

Experts say buyers are choosing to keep their options open and their eye on upcoming launches in the hope that developers might lower prices.

It is not that there is a lack of interest, with launches like Qingjian Realty’s Riversound Residence in Sengkang East Avenue attracting hundreds of viewers.

UBS Investment Research said there was a ‘lukewarm take-up’ of about 50 units out of the 250 apartments launched at the 590-unit estate. The average selling price was $850 per sq ft (psf).

A 1,259 sq ft four-bedroom unit, for example, was priced at $1.13 million, or about $896 psf after discounts.

Agents told The Straits Times that about 700 potential buyers visited the showflat over the two days, but most were simply scouting around, watching how the market might move before committing to a purchase.

The report added that apart from the absorption of stamp duty of about 3 per cent, serious buyers could also negotiate for an additional 2 per cent discount.

‘If not for the recent property measures, we believe these discounts would not have been offered,’ it added.

Sales at UOL Group’s 577-unit Archipelago in Bedok Reservoir have also slowed by some accounts.

While the developer declined to reveal sales figures, it said: ‘We are pleased with the interest and level of visitors at our showflat over the last few days.

‘We had transactions done over the weekend. Buyers are taking more time to commit and we hope to see more sales going forward.’

Far East Organization’s 528-unit The Hillier in Upper Bukit Timah moved another 75 units over the weekend, bringing total sales to 300 units at an average price of $1,197 psf.

Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs) made up 90 per cent of the buyers, and foreigners the rest. Far East continued to absorb the stamp duty of about 3 per cent and offered furniture vouchers as a sweetener, with the amount varying based on the apartment size.

Roxy-Pacific executive chairman and chief executive Teo Hong Lim said about 10 more units at Nottinghill Suites in Toh Tuck Road have been sold.

This took sales to about 40 per cent at the 124-unit project, which was soft launched in July last year. Average prices are about $1,500 psf, he added.

‘We received quite a few visitors at the showflat, but it is now more challenging to convince people to buy… Sales could have been better if not for the measures,’ Mr Teo said.

While first-time mass market home buyers are not affected by the latest measures, which target largely local investors and foreign buyers with an additional buyer’s stamp duty, fewer are willing to make decisions on the spot.

Market sentiment faces more tests with upcoming launches for Suites@Newton, Parc Rosewood in Woodlands and Watertown in Punggol, which has more than 900 units.

Separately, City Developments said yesterday it had received more than 800 e-applications for The Rainforest, a 466-unit executive condo project in Choa Chu Kang. Bookings will commence tomorrow.

Source: The Business Times – 10 January 2012

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