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January new-home sales slow amid dearth of property launches
DEVELOPERS sold 322 private residential homes in January, a 16 per cent drop from the 384 sold in December, and a 14 per cent drop from a year ago.
Only 146 units were launched for sale in the quiet first month of the year; this was the lowest number since December 2014, when 53 units were launched, going by data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).
Consultants pretty much expected the sluggish market in the run-up to the Chinese New Year.
On top of the prolonged effects of property cooling measures, developers also had to contend with the psychological effects of the economic slowdown, buyers' wariness of interest-rate increases and the volatility in the stock market.
Including executive condominiums (EC), a public-private hybrid, developers sold 478 units in January. This was 6 per cent lower than in December when 508 units were sold, and 15 per cent lower than in January 2015.
No fresh projects - condominiums or ECs - were launched for sale last month; neither was there an outstanding performance from any one development in particular.
The top seller was The Poiz Residences by MCC Land, which sold a mere 26 units in January at a median price of S$1,416 per square foot (psf). This is its second straight month as top seller - not much to boast of amid the dearth of launches, but consultants attribute this to its location right next to Potong Pasir MRT Station.
The second-best seller was The Amore, an EC by MKH (Punggol), which moved 24 units at a median S$799 psf.
Three other developments sold 21 units each. Kingsford Hillview Peak by Shenyang-based Kingsford Development managed a median selling price of S$1,277; GuocoLand's Sims Urban Oasis clocked a median of S$1,405 psf, and City Developments' The Brownstone EC achieved a median price of S$810 psf.
Desmond Sim, head of CBRE Research, Singapore and South East Asia, observed that developers have been "drip feeding" unsold units of previously launched projects into the private home market; bit by bit, little by little, these units made up the number of launched units in January, stirring sales in certain projects.
Ong Teck Hui, national director of research and consultancy at JLL, warned that going forward, the stock market's volatility could be a threat to the stability of the property market, going by what happened in the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC).
Back then, the stock market plunged 62 per cent between October 2007 and March 2009, and developer sales crashed 71 per cent from 14,811 units in 2007 to 4,264 units in 2008.
The current market volatility could make a "soft landing" for the private home market in 2016 less likely, he said, as buyers grow even more cautious and developers become less confident of launching new projects.
"The ultimate toll could be a softening in transaction volume and sharper price declines," said Mr Ong.
"While current financial market conditions are less severe than during the GFC, continued volatility in the stock market is still likely to have an adverse impact on the residential market."
But a more hopeful Eugene Lim, key executive officer at ERA Realty Network, put it down to the year being off to a slow start.
"January has typically been a slow month for property sales. A better gauge would be the months following the Chinese New Year, when a few projects are gearing up for launch," he said. These include condominiums The Wisteria and Sturdee Residences, and ECs Wandervale and The Visionaire, which are likely to be launched in the next few months.