WHILE market activity typically tends to slow during the Hungry Ghost month, sales volumes for private homes in August seemed to hold strong as developers sold over 1,000 new homes.
The 1,468-unit Parc Clematis is the top selling private residential project, with 316 units snapped up in August (as at Sept 12). Other projects launched earlier that continued to bring in a steady stream of buyers during the month include The Florence Residences (122 units), Treasure at Tampines (93 units), Parc Botannia (60 units), Parc Esta (47 units), and executive condominium (EC) Piermont Grand (44 units).
Based on the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) Realis data (as at Sept 12), developers moved 1,122 new homes in August, excluding ECs which are a private-public hybrid. Including ECs, developers sold 1,167 units. The URA is due to release sales figures for the month of August on Monday.
"Demand in August seemed to have been sustained, despite the typically taboo Ghost Month," said Tricia Song, head of research (Singapore) for Colliers International. "New home sales in August appear to be on a par with July's take-up."
Ms Song noted though that buyers remain price-sensitive, and are drawn to affordably-priced projects near transport links.
Christine Sun, head of research & consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie, expects sales volumes for August to remain robust, likely clocking slightly below July's sales volume. Ms Sun added: "Despite the global economic uncertainties and the Chinese lunar seventh month, over 1,000 new homes were sold last month. Last month's sales volume is considered strong as it is almost on a par with July's. The month of July usually records higher than average monthly sales in a year, and the sales volume for July 2019 was the highest for this year."
In July this year, developers moved 1,178 private homes excluding EC units, and 1,556 units, including ECs. In August last year, only 617 private homes were sold, as demand was muted in the wake of the property cooling measures in July 2018 and the last-minute launch of three mega projects on July 5 that soaked up a fair number of buyers trying to beat the deadline of the curbs, highlighted Savills' executive director (research & consultancy), Alan Cheong.
Meanwhile, Knight Frank's senior director and head of research, Lee Nai Jia pointed out that changing buyer demographics over the years may also be blunting the impact of the inauspicious Hungry Ghost month.
Huttons Asia's director (research) Lee Sze Teck said: "Most developers avoid the lunar seventh month for project launches and as a result, sales volumes tend to be lower. However, 2019 could be the exception. The lunar seventh month ended on Aug 29, giving developers the flexibility to decide whether they should launch on the last weekend of August."
He went on to point out that both Parc Clematis and Luxus Hills' Signature Collection were launched on that weekend, to "spectacular results".
Looking ahead, analysts expect launches and sales to continue to pick up in September and the months before the year-end holidays.
Tay Huey Ying, JLL's head of Singapore research, said: "Launch activities are expected to resume in September and the months after, given it will be in the interest of developers to ramp up new launches to beat the additional buyer's stamp duty deadline." Upcoming projects in the pipeline include the 200-unit Meyer Mansion, 116-unit Uptown @ Farrer and 219-unit Midtown Bay, Ms Tay added.
Avenue South Residence was launched earlier this month, while The Antares at Mattar Road is also launching in September.
With developers scheduling launches after the Hungry Ghost month period, "the bulk of the new sales numbers is likely to be reflected in September", reckoned Desmond Sim, CBRE's head of research (South-east Asia). CBRE expects new sales to clock approximately 8,000 in 2019.
New launches in September should stem from collective sales sites, said Savills' Mr Cheong, adding: "For the fourth quarter, there should be one to two sites from the Government Land Sales Programme of 2018, co-mingled with projects derived from collective sales sites."
Looking ahead, falling interest rates as well as Singapore's status as a safe haven for long-term investments could keep buying sentiment positive, especially amid the ongoing US- China trade war and other uncertainties which threaten to cast a pall on the global economy.
Knight Frank's Dr Lee said: "Over the long term, Singapore's residential assets will continue to be perceived as safe assets and attract investors with at least a five-year investment horizon."
Colliers projects the take-up tally for 2019 to surpass the 8,795 units scooped up in 2018.