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Analysts make light of March fall in developers' home sales

Analysts make light of March fall in developers' home sales.

MARCH private home sales dived almost 60 per cent from a year ago - but industry players are unfazed, citing a dearth of new launches as the main cause.

Sentiment remains buoyant and, with the slew of launches rolled out this month and more to come, buyers are expected to be drawn out; developers and their marketing agents will be kept busy.

There were only two new launches last month - The Tapestry in Tampines and 8 Hullet off Cairnhill Road.

Developer City Developments' project, The Tapestry - the bigger of the two projects - moved 329 units in March at a median price of S$1,408 psf.

Colliers International's head of research for Singapore Tricia Song said the strong take-up is proof of the resilience of the mass-market private housing segment.

"The pricing of The Tapestry in March was markedly higher than the launch prices of nearby projects - The Alps Residences with a median price of S$1,078 psf when it was launched in October 2016; The Santorini at S$1,108 psf in March 2014; and Q Bay Residences at S$1,012 psf in January 2013," she noted.

Sales at The Tapestry pushed developers' private home sales volume for March up 86.5 per cent to 716 units from the previous month's tally of 384 units.

But March's number was down 59.8 per cent from the 1,780 private homes developers moved in March 2017.

The preliminary tally of developers' sales for the first quarter of 2018 stands at 1,627 private homes - down 12.7 per cent from the fourth quarter of last year, and also a decline of 45.1 per cent year on year.

The URA will release the final figure for Q1 2018 on April 27.

Christine Li, head of research at Cushman & Wakefield Singapore, said: "The depleting developers' inventory could be one main reason buyers are holding back on purchases."

She noted that out of the top 10 best-selling projects in March, four are already more than 90 per cent sold. "Buyers simply do not have enough choices in existing launches because the remaining 10 per cent or less in the development could be either very expensive units on higher floors, or units with less desirable attributes."

The market response to the launch of The Verandah Residences in Pasir Panjang and Park Place Residences at PLQ in Paya Lebar earlier this month has been positive. "At The Verandah Residences, 129 of the project's total 170 units were sold on the first weekend of sales on April 7 and 8; at Park Place Residences, 149 units were transacted in the first weekend of its Phase 2 launch, also on April 7-8."

The Business Times reported earlier than Park Place Residences' second phase was priced at about S$2,000 psf on average - up 11 per cent from the S$1,800 psf for the first-phase launch last year.

Industry observers say that the fear of missing the boat is expected to continue drawing fence-sitters into the market at the upcoming launches.

Ms Li said: "The total number of new home sales could thus see a notable increase in April and May, when more new launches such as Garden Residences in Serangoon North, Twin View at West Coast Vale and Margaret Ville at Margaret Drive are launched for sale."

CBRE Research's head of Singapore and South-east Asia Desmond Sim also expects sales to gather momentum, with more launches in the coming months.

He is sticking to his full-year forecast for developers to sell 12,000 to 13,000 new private homes - up from 10,566 units last year.

These figures exclude executive condo or EC units, which are a public-private housing hybrid form.

The URA's data released on Monday, based on its survey of licensed housing developers, also showed that developers moved 72 EC units in March - reflecting a 21.7 per cent decline from February and a drop of 87.5 per cent year on year.

Last month's best-selling EC project was Signature at Yishun, with 39 units sold at a median price of S$789 psf, followed by Northwave in Woodlands, where 19 units were sold at a median price of S$843 psf.

"There is little left in the inventory of unsold ECs and most launched EC projects are at the tail-end of their marketing," noted JLL national director Ong Teck Hui.

Analysts also expect the EC sales volume for April to be boosted from last weekend's launch of Rivercove Residences in Sengkang. Nearly 80 per cent, or 499 of the 628 units in the project were sold at an average price of S$965 psf.

This is nearly 15 per cent higher than the average selling price of the preceding EC - Hundred Palms Residences in Yio Chu Kang, which was launched at S$842 psf in July 2017.

Mr Ong said: "The undersupply of ECs has contributed to a strong appreciation in new EC prices."

Adapted from: Business Times, 17 Apr 2018