Collective sales: Why some owners missed out

The collective-sale fever sweeping the property sector has created lots of winners – but there are still a number of owners who missed out on the jackpot because they sold too early.

Some could well have had dreadfully bad timing, with no inkling of their neighbours’ plans to sell their properties en bloc.

But others may well have been disappointed at the failure of previous bids to sell en bloc – and there have been plenty of those – and did not want to go through the agony again.

“Some owners need the cash urgently and have been waiting for a chance to cash out. Others might have to relocate for personal reasons,” said Mr Terence Lian, head of investment sales at realtor Huttons Asia.

Edmund Tie & Company research head Lee Nai Jia also noted that owners may not want to sit around and wait for a developer’s big offer: “Rather than taking the chance, they prefer certainty, especially if they can sell at a good price.”

Take former HUDC project Tampines Court, which was snapped up in August for $970 million after more than a year of paperwork, with each owner pocketing between $1.71 million and $1.75 million. Five apartments there had already hit the market in the first five months of this year, fetching just under half as much – between $915,000 and $980,000.

The estate also made collective-sale attempts in 2008 and 2011.

The failure of previous bids could have led to pessimism this time round, said Dr Lee.

In some cases, “the quantum is very high if transacted and some buyers may feel the developers may not have such appetite”.

He pointed to Pine Grove in Ulu Pandan, where owners are asking for $1.65 billion, in their third outing on the market.

Home owners who bow out early usually do so out of concern about the duration of the whole collective-sale process, said Huttons’ Mr Lian. After all, the process can take months as owners must vote in favour of a sale, form a committee, hire lawyers and marketing agents, approve a sale agreement and obtain 80 per cent of the estate’s support.

And much of this before developers can even come calling with bids.

Dr Lee also noted that older projects face higher maintenance fees as well as depreciating values because of the clock ticking on their leases.

Industry watchers said residents may well be making calculated gambles, depending on the sale prospects of different developments.

Mr Lian said: “It is clearly not the case of owners feeling bearish about the en-bloc potential of their properties. On the contrary, this clearly demonstrates the opportunism of some owners who want to capitalise on the increase in the resale value of their houses, as there will be a sudden spike in demand for such properties which are going en bloc.”

The 336-unit Florence Regency was reported to be assessing a collective sale in March and launched a tender in August.

Resale prices hovered between $850,000 and $930,000 last year but two units sold in June and July this year for about $1.2 million each.

Still, ERA key executive officer Eugene Lim cautioned that with cooling measures such as the additional buyer’s stamp duty still in place, “we expect the upward movement of prices over the coming months to be gradual rather than steep”.

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