By Jessica Cheam
PRIME property prices may still be a far cry from the record levels reached during the 2007 property boom, but one Orchard Road project recently achieved a new record price.
The Straits Times understands that a 2,885 sq ft apartment at Ardmore Park was sold last week for $10.64 million, or $3,688 per sq ft (psf) - a record for the project.
The previous record for the 330-unit freehold project was $10.1 million, or $3,501 psf for a unit, achieved in October 2007, according to caveats lodged.
The home with the record-breaking price is on a high floor in a premium tower with an unblocked panoramic view, said property agent Daphne Tay of Sotheby's International Realty, who part-brokered the deal.
A foreign buyer from North Asia forked out the record sum. The sellers were an Indonesian couple who were the original owners, said Ms Tay, who has been in the industry for over 15 years. Both buyer and seller declined to be interviewed.
Property analysts said that the record deal was not unexpected, given that the luxury property segment is hotting up.
Mr Joseph Tan, executive director of residential services at CB Richard Ellis, said that this year will be a year dominated by high-end properties.
'Mass market homes, which drove the property boom last year, have reached their previous peak in terms of price, whereas the luxury market is still 20 per cent below its peak,' he said. He also noted that foreign buyers, who left in droves in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, have been returning to the Singapore property market.
Based on caveats lodged, the number of foreign buyers rose from 1,498 in 2008 to 2,840 last year, he said.
Compared to rival cities such as Hong Kong, Singapore prime properties are still cheaper and represent good investment value, Mr Tan added.
According to a recent DTZ research report, foreigners accounted for 12 per cent of total purchases of private homes in the fourth quarter last year, up from 10 per cent in the previous quarter.
In the second half of last year, there was an increase in buyers from Britain, Korea and Australia, said the report.
High-end property prices have been inching up in tandem with the global economic recovery.
Late last year, six units at SC Global's luxury development, Seven Palms in Sentosa Cove, were sold at record prices of $11 million each, or $3,100 to $3,400 psf.
However, luxury property prices are still nowhere near the dizzying heights achieved in 2007 when a 53rd storey 5,048 sq ft private apartment in The Orchard Residences was sold for a record $5,600 psf, or $28.27 million.
That was topped, in absolute terms, by a freehold apartment on the 19th storey of The Marq on Paterson Hill which sold for a whopping $31 million, but at a lower psf price of $5,100.
Ngee Ann Polytechnic real estate lecturer Nicholas Mak said that even though activity in high-end properties will pick up this year, prices this year are not likely to return to their 2007 peak.
'This year is going to be a bit turbulent for the property market, especially after the recent government measures to cool the property market. Buyers should generally be quite cautious,' he said.
The Government announced last Friday that it will introduce a sellers' stamp duty for those who resell a property within a year. It also reduced the maximum home loan amount a bank can lend a buyer from 90 per cent to 80 per cent of the property value.
The new measures aim to pre-empt a property bubble from forming and to ensure a stable and sustainable property market.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.