DEVELOPERS may have sold more units in October than in September, but take away just one project and the picture is decidedly less rosy.
In all, developers sold 765 private homes in October, 18 per cent higher than the 648 units sold in September, according to data released by Urban Redevelopment Authority on Monday. But this was mostly boosted by brisk sales at a single large-scale launch, Marina One Residences, which sold 334 of its total 400 launched units.
As SLP International executive director Nicholas Mak put it: "If Marina One Residences was taken out of the equation, the sales volume in October would be the lowest for the whole of 2014.
"Other than Marina One Residences, the sales in the other top sellers were all less than 50 units each in October. Therefore, there is still a long way to go for the local real estate market before a firm and steady recovery is in sight."
Year-on-year, sales have fallen 31 per cent from the 1,104 units sold in October last year. These figures exclude executive condos (ECs). If ECs are included, developers sold 855 units in October, above September's 707 units.
Marina One Residences is part of a mega mixed-use project by Temasek Holdings and Khazanah Nasional, located just behind the Marina Bay Financial Centre. Its units were sold at a median price of S$2,228 per square foot in October. Consultants credited its appeal to its attractive pricing, prime inner city location and proximity to MRT stations.
It was also the only new residential project launch in October. Mr Mak noted, too, that out of the 334 units sold, more than 300 units were bought through private sales, rather than a public launch.
Besides the Marina development, buying activity was supported by Coco Palms in Pasir Ris, Lakeville at Lakeside, and The Skywoods along Dairy Farm Heights.
"Buying demand was not totally absent in the market, but it had to be drawn out by attractive pricing," said Mohamed Ismail, chief executive of PropNex.
The higher sales volume in October was also a result of the higher launch volume, again skewed by Marina One Residences. New launches rose 26 per cent to 649 units. Again, taking away Marina One Residences, the launch volume would have tanked.
Ong Teck Hui, national research director at JLL, said: "The lack of new launches in October, despite this period being considered a window of opportunity to secure some sales (before the year-end festivities begin), shows that developers are not confident that there is sufficient demand to achieve a decent take-up.
"Due to the challenging market conditions, developers seem to prefer to let the year slip by and tackle the challenges afresh in 2015. It is unlikely that the market will see any significant resurgence in launches and sales for the rest of 2014, and it looks set to close as the most dismal year since 2008 when the market was hit by the global financial crisis."
Eugene Lim, key executive officer of ERA Realty Network, too, expects that developers may hold back launches and focus on clearing units from their existing projects in the last two months of the year. He expects primary market sales of 400-700 units for November and December each.
Year-to-date, 6,705 new units have been sold, compared to nearly 15,000 sold for the whole of 2013.
The last two months of 2014 could round this figure up to 7,500, say the more bearish analysts, or 9,000, say the optimists.
Already, Lake Life EC has sold 534 out of 546 units this month. TRE Residences in Geylang has sold about 50 of its 250 units. Sophia Hills at Mount Sophia has not released its sales figures but according to a source, its showflat was quiet over its launch weekend.