New private home sales hit 8-month high

Demand for new private homes shot up to an eight-month high last month on the back of better market sentiment and a surge of new launches.

There were 843 new homes sold last month, more than double the 303 units moved in February and the highest monthly sales since 1,655 homes changed hands last July, according to Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) data released yesterday. The figures exclude executive condominiums (ECs).

March was more buoyant partly because there were fewer launches in February due to the Chinese New Year holiday, a traditionally slow period for property sales.

Developers launched 682 new private homes last month,well up on February’s 209 units.

“The large jump in buyer activity could be due to pent-up demand as the last new residential project launched was The Poiz Residences in November last year,” said ERA Realty Network key executive officer Eugene Lim.

CBRE Research said the expectation that the Government would not lift measures in the near future probably nudged those sitting on the fence to commit to a purchase.

The Poiz Residences in Potong Pasir and two projects that were launched in March – Cairnhill Nine and The Wisteria – accounted for nearly 43 per cent of the new private homes sold last month.

CapitaLand’s Cairnhill Nine, near Orchard Road, was the top performer, selling 177 units out of the 200 units launched at a median price of $2,441 psf. This was followed by Northern Resi’s The Wisteria in Yishun, which sold 125 of 216 units at a median price of $1,112 psf. The Poiz Residences sold 59 units with a median price of $1,475 psf.

“Overall, developers’ priced-to- sell strategy seems to have borne fruit. The rally in the stock market and an overall improved market sentiment in March have also lifted sales volume in existing launches,” noted Cushman & Wakefield research director Christine Li.

The spike in transactions last month lifted private new home sales to 1,470 units in the first quarter, up from 1,379 in the same period last year, but lower than the 1,692 units sold in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Mass market homes or those in the suburban areas remained the most popular, with 461 new units sold last month, driven largely by The Wisteria. There were 210 units moved in the city centre, thanks to Cairnhill Nine, while 172 homes in the city fringes were sold.

If ECs are included, sales came in at 1,328 units in March – also an eight-month high and triple February’s total transactions of 433.

The best-selling EC project was Sim Lian Group’s Wandervale in Choa Chu Kang, the first EC development launched this year. It sold 292 of 534 units last month at a median price of $770 psf.

Two new ECs will be available for booking this month: The Visionaire and Parc Life, both in Sembawang.

Despite the rebound in launches and sales last month, some analysts remain cautious.

SLP International Property Consultants executive director Nicholas Mak said monthly statistics are “always volatile” and he expects the number of launches to taper off in the coming quarters as the Government has trimmed the supply of land. “The number of private housing units expected to be sold by developers in Singapore this year is projected to be about 10 per cent lower than the 7,440 units sold last year”, he noted.

Mr Ong Teck Hui, national director for research and consultancy at JLL, said: “The market will remain challenging due to the downside risks arising from the economic slowdown, substantial unsold supply and a weak leasing market.”