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Private-home sales plunge as buyers take a break

SINGAPORE — Sales of new private homes plunged 69 per cent last month as developers refrained from launching new projects during the Hungry Ghost Festival and buyers stayed on the sidelines during a time considered inauspicious for home purchases.

A condominium in Singapore. TODAY file photo

A condominium in Singapore. TODAY file photo

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SINGAPORE — Sales of new private homes plunged 69 per cent last month as developers refrained from launching new projects during the Hungry Ghost Festival and buyers stayed on the sidelines during a time considered inauspicious for home purchases.

With buyer sentiment already weighed down by the cooling measures, new private home transactions fell to 495 units last month from a ­revised 1,611 units in July, when sales were boosted by the unusually high take-up of a single development, ­data from the Urban Redevelopment ­Authority data showed. In August last year, developers sold 437 units.

“It was largely expected that transaction numbers would be lower than July. Some people prefer not to buy homes during this period, while most developers would put off new launches until the onset of the eighth month of the Chinese calendar, which is deemed to be more auspicious,” said Mr Eugene Lim, key executive officer of ERA.

“There is also an inertia to commit by buyers … due to ongoing measures and/or an anticipation of further price declines,” said Mr Ismail Gafoor, chief executive of PropNex Realty.

With the exception of July and April, when 1,167 homes were sold, sales of new private homes have remained between the 300 and 650 range a month this year.

August’s lacklustre sales came as developers concentrated on launching units in existing projects such as High Park Residences in Fernvale, North Park Residences in Yishun, and Corals at Keppel Bay. The top three bestselling projects last month were all in the Outside Central Region, which made up 71.9 per cent, or 356 units, of the homes developers sold.

The best­seller was High Park Residences in Sengkang, where 76 units were transacted, followed by Botanique at Bartley with 30 units, and Adana @ Thomson with 28 units. The Rest of Central Region saw 95 units transacted, while developers with projects in the Core Central ­Region sold 44 units.

In the EC segment, 466 units were sold last month, most from Sol Acres at Choa Chu Kang Grove — the sole EC project launched last month — where buyers bought 259 units. “A major draw could be the relatively low pricing, as median prices were around S$787 per square foot,” said Mr Lim.

Following the upward revision in monthly household income ceilings for new Housing and Development Board flats and ECs to S$12,000 and S$14,000 respectively, analysts said the increased affordability for public housing could pull some demand away from the private housing market. That said, any impact from the policy change is likely to be limited and it could be some time before it is felt.

“Any impact may take one or two months … It would probably be ­towards the end of the year before we see anything definitive,” said Mr Nicholas Mak, executive director of research and consultancy at property firm SLP International.

Between January and August, ­developers have sold 5,533 units, up from 5,357 units sold in the corresponding period last year, Orange Tee said in a research note. “This is evidence that the market has ­adjusted to current cooling measures, and barring any unexpected shocks to the economy, we may possibly see a mild recovery in developer sales.

“However ... (the) large number of ­incoming completions, an expected ­interest rate hike and current cooling measures will continue to be a drag on market sentiments and sales.”

For the whole of this year, ERA’s Mr Lim expects private residential sales to hit 7,000 to 8,000 units and ECs to be between 2,000 and 3,000 units.

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