By Kalpana Rashiwala
SINGAPORE - After September's slump came October's rebound. This turnaround, reflected in the latest developer sales figures revealed yesterday, has prompted some industry observers to say that another round of demand-cooling measures may follow, as those announced on Aug 30 do not seem to have had a strong or lasting impact.
Developers sold 1,058 private homes excluding executive condominium (EC) units in October, up 16.1 per cent from September's sales volume of 911 units, according to primary-market sales data released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority yesterday. In addition, developers sold 529 ECs in October (no ECs were sold in September), taking total developer sales (including ECs) for October to 1,587 units.The number of private homes sold in the US$2,000 (S$2615) to US$2,500 (S$3270) per square foot price band in October was 207 units, or about eight times the 26 units developers sold in September. The increase was partly due to the release of The Glyndebourne (along Dunearn Road) and Suites at Orchard (at Handy Road). Excluding ECs (which are a hybrid of public and private housing), developers had sold 1,259 units in August before the cooling measures pushed this number down to 911 in September. It climbed back to 1,058 in October.
Said Knight Frank chairman Tan Tiong Cheng: 'Gauging by new sales, I suppose what government is trying to do doesn't seem to have had a severe impact on the market.
'The market is still buoyant; it's hard to say it's not. It would seem to me that if the government feels that current price levels are still high, we can expect more measures to cool the market.'
In the first 10 months of this year, developers sold 13,109 private homes excluding ECs - against 14,688 units for the whole of last year. Property consultants reckon the full-year tally may reach 14,700-15,000 and could surpass the record 14,811 units sold in 2007.
DTZ executive director (consulting) Ong Choon Fah said: 'Demand is still liquidity driven; it goes beyond the property market. It's an overall market phenomenon.'
She also pointed to the emergence of a two-tier market, with new projects launched by developers commanding a price premium of 20 per cent or more to earlier developments in the area.
The number of private homes (excluding ECs) sold by developers in the Core Central Region and Rest of Central Region rose, but sales in Outside Central Region (where mass-market homes are found) fell about 25 per cent.
In tandem with this trend, Colliers International's analysis shows that the number of private homes (excluding ECs) costing up to US$1,000 psf sold by developers declined from 427 units in September to 183 last month.
Some of the demand in the low-price band was probably siphoned off to the two new EC projects released last month - Esparina Residences in Buangkok and The Canopy in Yishun - the first EC launches in five years, with sales of 425 units (at US$761 psf median price) and 104 units (at US$658 psf median price). Developers also continued to roll out smallish units to drive up sales and per square foot prices, such as Suites @ Sims, RV Point along River Valley Road and Kovan Grandeur.
The most expensive new home sold by a developer last month was a US$4,800 psf unit at Boulevard Vue, a 33-storey freehold development at Cuscaden Walk. BT understands that the deal involved a 4,500 sq ft high-floor apartment, amounting to US$21.6 million.
Other high-priced deals in October included Tomlinson Heights (US$3,416 psf), Marina Bay Suites (US$3,328 psf), Paterson Suites (US$3,133 psf), Alba in Cairnhill Rise (US$3,100 psf), Twin Peaks in the Leonie Hill area (US$2,885 psf) and Seascape in Sentosa Cove (US$2,838 psf).
In terms of sales volume, October's top-selling primary market projects included the two new ECs. The total of 979 units in these two projects boosted total units launched by developers in October to 2,049 units.
Excluding ECs, developers released 1,070 private homes in October, slightly above the 1,058 units in September.
Other projects that sold well last month include The Glyndebourne (112 units at US$2,149 psf median price), NV Residences in Pasir Ris (81 units at US$831 psf), Suites at Orchard (80 units at US$2,140 psf) and Vacanza @ East (77 units at US$1,081 psf).
This article was first published in The Business Times.