SIGNATURE at Yishun, the first executive condominium (EC) to be launched following the income ceiling hike for EC buyers, is slated to be sold at an average of S$750 per square foot (psf) or less, say market sources.
If this indicative average pricing is anything to go by, it will be the lowest psf pricing for ECs this year.
Industry experts say it is a reflection of how developers are trying to move sales quickly, given an upcoming spate of EC launches - and this is despite the pool of eligible buyers having supposedly widened, with the gross monthly household income for EC buyers now at S$14,000, up from S$12,000.
JBE Holdings, a boutique developer owned by Hong Kong businessman Patrick Lam, is touting the 525-unit project as the "most affordable executive condominium in 2015", but exact price details will be announced only two days before booking begins on Sept 26.
ERA Realty and GPS Alliance are marketing the project.
Excluding Signature at Yishun, seven other EC projects offering 3,650 units could be launched in the next 15 months, said SLP International executive director Nicholas Mak.
"Therefore, a sensible strategy for many EC developers would be to sell as many of their EC units quickly and to maintain the sales momentum."
An adjacent EC project is the soon-to-be launched The Criterion by City Developments and TID Residential; other EC project launches in the pipeline include a joint project by Frasers Centrepoint and Keong Hong in Sembawang Avenue, Sim Lian's project in Choa Chu Kang Drive, Qingjian Realty's project in Sembawang Road/Canberra Link and Hao Yuan Investment's project in Woodlands Avenue 12.
Mr Mak said: "It appears that the developer of Signature at Yishun wants to rush out the launch of this project before the rest of the competition."
He noted that the e-application period from Sept 11 to 20 comes only two weeks after the close of the mandatory 15-month waiting period from the date of being awarded the site to the commencement of sales.
In comparison, some recently launched EC projects had started their e-applications about two to three months after the end of the 15-month waiting period.
The land price of The Criterion, at S$330.13 psf, was slightly lower than that of Signature at Yishun (S$334.57 psf), which may give The Criterion a slight pricing advantage, Mr Mak said; he cited this as another reason for JBE Holdings to launch Signature at Yishun first.
This project sits between Yishun Street 51 and Yishun Avenue 1 and is bounded by Lower Seletar Reservoir and the golf course of Orchid Country Club; some premium units will thus have views of the water. The project offers two-, three- and four-bedroom units, with the two-bedders starting at 775 sq ft.
Signature at Yishun is the third EC project after SkyPark Residences and The Amore for JBE Holdings, which has branched out from its earlier focus on higher-end and landed homes.
Calling it an "SG50 EC", JBE Holdings is incorporating lifestyle facilities into the project. Its features include playgrounds, lap pools, a Chapteh Terrace, "Five Stones" lounge pods, Sepak Takraw Pavilion, a nostalgia trail and a heritage walk.
R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng noted that any EC project launched this year within a price band of S$750 to $780 psf - below the average S$800 psf for new ECs sold last year - will be expected to receive "fairly encouraging, but not overwhelming buyers' interest".
Such pricing will position Signature at Yishun favourably vis-a-vis mass-market condos in Yishun, which have been going at an average price of S$1,000 psf (with the exception of North Park Residences, which is next to the MRT station and part of a mixed development), he said.
Still, there are not only more EC projects to be launched, but also a substantial number of unsold units in existing projects, he added. This is why sales of new ECs are likely to "benefit moderately but not substantially from the new income ceiling revision".