September home sales up 5.6% from August; 1,329 units sold the highest in over 2 years

The sales volume marks the fifth consecutive month of increase in monthly sales since the "circuit breaker" in April 2020


DEVELOPERS in Singapore sold 1,329 new private homes in September, 5.6 per cent more than the 1,258 units in August with affordable homes making up the bulk of sales.

The bestseller project was The Penrose with almost 75 per cent of the 389 units sold priced below S$1.5 million, said Ong Teck Hui, JLL senior director, research & consultancy.

Last month's transactions were the highest sales volume notched since July 2018's 1,724, and marks the fifth consecutive month of increase in monthly sales since the "circuit breaker" in April 2020. The figure is also 4.6 per cent higher than the 1,270 units sold in September 2019.

Lee Sze Teck, Huttons Asia director (research) pointed out that July 2018 was when cooling measures were introduced, and frenzied buying on the day before the measures took effect pushed sales to a record high.

The latest sales mean 3,670 units were sold in Q3, more than double that of the preceding quarter and 11.9 per cent higher than the 3,281 done a year ago.

The figures - which were released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority on Thursday based on its survey of licensed housing developers - exclude executive condominium (EC) units, which are a public-private housing hybrid. Including ECs, developers moved 1,385 units in September, up from 1,309 units in August.

Last month, 1,340 units were released, of which 25 were in the Core Central Region (CCR), 1,187 in Rest of Central Region (RCR), and 128 were Outside Central Region (OCR).

RCR sales led with 859, followed by OCR (386) and CCR (84).

September's sales continued August's trend where buyers favoured attractively-priced city-fringe projects, said Tricia Song, Colliers International head of research, Singapore.

In September, the RCR made up the bulk of sales (excluding ECs) at 64.6 per cent, compared to 49.5 per cent in August 2020. OCR, or the proxy for the mass market segment, made up 29 per cent of total sales, compared to 40.3 per cent in August 2020.

"We estimate 88 per cent of the total developer sales in September 2020 were priced at the median price of S$1,000-S$2,000 per sq ft (psf), compared to 81 per cent in August 2020," she said.

"Transaction volumes in the RCR reached a new fevered high as developers sold 859 units in September, the strongest showing in both 2019 and 2020 to-date," said Leonard Tay, head, research, Knight Frank Singapore.

The total of 389 units sold at Penrose was also higher than the September volume of the next five best-selling projects put together.

Other new projects, Verdale and Myra, also located in the city fringe, collectively sold 59 units.

Factors for the stellar performance of Penrose would be its walking distance to the MRT station, and the sweet spot price points of around S$1 million for two-bedroom units and S$1.5 million for three-bedroom units, said Ms Song.

"Momentum in the high-end segment appeared to have slowed," said Ms Song.

In the luxury segment, The Avenir moved another eight units at a median price of S$3,059 psf, a 5.7 per cent cut from the median price of S$3,245 in January 2020, she said. The priciest unit also came from The Avenir at S$7.63 million for a 2,411 sq ft unit on the 22nd floor. The most expensive based on a per square foot price came from one unit at Boulevard 88 at S$3,653.

In the first nine months of 2020, developers sold an estimated 7,532 units, which is 0.8 per cent more than the same period in 2019.

The irony of strong home sales in a pandemic year is not lost on analysts.

The 1,329 developer sales in September is also the highest monthly volume in 2020 to-date, exceeding every single month in all of 2019, said Mr Tay.

Compared with September 2019, last month's total was 4.6 per cent higher - "ironic that a month caught in the middle of a pandemic-led recession should exceed that of a fairly normal month a year ago," said Mr Tay.

"While Singapore is headed for its biggest recession on record, the contraction is not broad-based and in part due to the two-month 'circuit breaker'," Hutton's Mr Lee said.

The manufacturing and export sectors have shown early signs of recovery since June, and properties are one of the investment assets that will benefit from economic recovery.

"Strong monthly sales and price recovery in the property market since Q2 2020 probably also gave buyers confidence to enter the market," said Mr Lee.

The robust volumes has led to declining stock, said Christine Sun, OrangeTee & Sun, head of research & consultancy.

"Many mega projects (more than 500 units) that were launched before the pandemic from January 2018 to December 2019 sold more than 50 per cent of their entire project to-date," she said.

"Of the 21 mega projects, more than 15,000 private homes were sold collectively from January 2018 to September 2020. The cumulative unsold units from these 21 projects seemed to be fast diminishing, dipping from 9,460 units in December 2019 to 5,460 units in September 2020. Given the steady pace of sales, most mega-projects could be fully sold by next year," said Ms Sun.

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