Is the local property market finally turning the corner? The quick sold-out status of a Hougang executive condominium (EC) is one sign of a resurgence in new private home sales. It was the first time since 2014 the market has witnessed such a feat.
Howeever, analysts are waiting for more evidence – that falling prices have finally bottomed out and are on their way up – before calling it.
Photo: Lianhe Wanbao
Rising market optimism – driven by a recent tweak in certain cooling measures, a healthy stock market and still-low interest rates – has helped to spur new home sales.
But despite the increase in sales, analysts say it is premature to declare that the market is out of the woods as the recovery is not broad-based.
Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research and consultancy at ZACD Group, noted: “Typically, in a boom market, prices, rentals and sales volume will all increase. We have not seen that yet.”
Mr Wong Xian Yang , head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee, added: “The good performances of recent launches indicate that there is pent-up demand. (But) prices have stubbornly continued to decline.
“So it might be too soon to say that the market has finally turned a corner.”
Estimates show home values dipped by 0.3 per cent from the first to second quarter this year. Prices have sunk about 11 per cent since a peak in the third quarter of 2013.
As prices have moderated, sales have climbed. More than 6,500 new private homes (excluding ECs) have been sold in the first half-year, up markedly by 72 per cent from the 3,814 homes sold a year ago.
Analysts expect the brisk buying activity to continue but noted that not every project will be a sell-out.
Hundred Palms Residences EC in Hougang shifted all 531 units at an average of $ 836 per square foot (psf) within seven hours of their launch on Saturday.
Mr Mak noted: “The sales at Hundred Palms are due to its location – there haven’t been any ECs in that area. I won’t say the whole property market has turned around. One swallow doesn’t make a summer.”
The last time a new project sold out in a day was in January 2014 at The Hillford, a mixed development which was marketed as a “retirement resort”.
Another project, Martin Modern – a luxury condo in Martin Place – sold about 90 out of 450 units over the weekend at a price range of $ 2,009 psf to more than $ 2,500 psf.
Given the brisk sales from these projects, all eyes will be on Qingjian Realty’s 516-unit Le Quest in Bukit Batok West – going on sale on Aug 5.
International Property Advisor chief executive Ku Swee Yong said: “New launches are selling well mainly because of marketing hype. If the property market was so hot, why are we not getting lots of viewings for resale homes? “
Analysts also note that leasing remains challenging and vacancies are still high.
However, other trends could support the market recovery.
These include the fervour in land bidding by developers in both public land tenders and the collective sale market.
Announcements on two site tenders are expected this week: for privatised HUDC estate Serangoon Ville, put on collective sale for $ 400 million to $ 430 million, and the public land tender for a private residential site in Serangoon North Avenue 1, closing tomorrow.
Given the bullish prices paid for development sites recently and more positive sentiment, analysts expect home prices could start to inch up next year, after a 15-quarter losing streak since the fourth quarter of 2013.
Ms Tricia Song, research head at Colliers International Singapore, said: “We expect private home prices to be relatively flat in the second half of 2017 and anticipate a pick-up from the beginning of 2018, to maybe approximately +3 per cent for the full year 2018.”
The Urban Redevelopment Authority is expected to release the second-quarter final property market statistics this week.
This article was first published on The Straits Times.