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New top-tier condos see better sales this year

URA data points to healthy overall demand for this category of homes despite economic uncertainties

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An artist's impression of Neu at Novena, which was launched for sale last month. The development off Moulmein Road was the third-best-selling development in October; 54 units were sold at a median price of S$2,585 psf.

Singapore

A HUNDRED and four non-landed new homes with a price tag of S$5 million and above were sold in the first 10 months of this year - the highest tally in recent years.

OrangeTee & Tie said the last high was in 2011, when 155 units priced above that level were transacted for the corresponding 10-month period.

When looking at properties by price per square foot (psf), the number of new private homes sold (excluding bulk purchases) at above S$2,500 per square foot (psf) hit a 10-year peak with 823 non-landed units transacted from January to October this year, the real estate agency highlighted.

A hundred and seventy units were sold in October alone.

This comes as overall demand for new private homes remained healthy in October despite economic uncertainties, data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) showed. Analysts project that the number of homes sold for this year as a whole would pip that for 2018.

Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie, said: "Singapore's luxury properties have been thrust into the limelight this year, with a number of high-profile, multi-million-dollar purchases and more ultra-rich foreigners having snapped up residential homes recently. Last month, luxury home sales once again rebounded as a few projects were newly launched in the prime districts."

However, luxury properties have attracted both Singaporeans and foreigners. OrangeTee & Tie estimates that Singaporeans bought some 71 per cent, or 119 units, of the non-landed new homes sold in the core central region (CCR) in October. The number of units in the CCR picked up by foreigners "continued to rise, with 35 units inked last month", Ms Sun said.

In the first 10 months of this year, foreigners bought 171 new luxury non-landed homes, versus 161 units and 150 units for the corresponding 10 months in 2018 and 2017 respectively.

Data released by the URA on Friday showed that developers in Singapore sold 928 private homes in the month of October, down 27 per cent from the 1,270 units moved in September.

However, at 1,714 units, there were more units launched for sale in September. In comparison, 892 units were released for sale in October, roughly half that of the previous month. The figures exclude executive condominium (ECs) units, which are a public-private housing hybrid.

Meanwhile, the number of units sold in October this year (928) was about 85 per cent higher than in the corresponding month a year ago, when 502 units were sold. Some 218 units were launched for sale in October last year.

Wong Xian Yang, senior manager for research for South-east Asia at Cushman & Wakefield, said: "Market sentiment remains buoyant, as seen from encouraging developer sales in October. This is despite the weak economic outlook and cooling measures, which have raised the barriers of entry for property investment."

He added that demand was well spread out in October, with top-selling project Parc Esta accounting for around 10 per cent of the month's total sales.

Of the 928 units sold last month, 182 units were in the CCR, which Huttons Asia research director Lee Sze Teck pointed out was the highest number in over two years. He added: "This can be attributed to attractively priced CCR projects."

Another 355 units were in the rest of the central region (RCR), while the remaining 391 units were outside the central region (OCR).

Ong Teck Hui, senior director of research & consultancy at JLL, said: "The bulk of demand is still for more affordably priced properties, as reflected by 55 per cent of new non-landed sales in projects with median prices from S$1,200 psf to S$1,700 psf."

Parc Esta sold 92 units in October at a median price of S$1,686 psf. Treasure at Tampines was the second best-selling project that month, with 88 units scooped up at a median price of S$1,373 psf.

Neu At Novena, launched for sale last month, was in the third spot, selling 54 units at a median price of S$2,585 psf.

Including ECs, developers moved 955 units last month, reflecting a decrease of about 26 per cent from September's 1,298 units; but this was 82 per cent higher than the 525 units sold in October last year.

This year, analysts expect that the number of new homes sold will surpass the 8,795 private homes (excluding ECs) that developers moved last year. In the first 10 months of this year, developers sold 8,397 private residential units, up 12.5 per cent year-on-year.

Nicholas Mak, head of research and consultancy for ERA Realty, said: "If the current buying momentum were to continue, the total primary market sales volume for 2019 could range between 9,400 and 10,300 units, exceeding the volume in the previous year."

PropNex expects the year will close with 9,500 to 9,800 units sold; Cushman & Wakefield puts the figure at between 9,500 and 10,500 units.

Meanwhile, Colliers International expects prices for 2019 as a whole to edge up 2 per cent.

"We expect prices to continue to stabilise and rise by 2 per cent for the full year 2019," said Tricia Song, head of research for Singapore at Colliers. "Prices will likely be kept in check with the economic slowdown and an ample launch pipeline."

There are still 4,653 private homes (excluding ECs) which have been launched but have yet to be sold, Ms Song added.

Launches in November include Sengkang Grand Residences, Pullman Residences in Newton and The Iveria.

READ MORE: Changing tides of foreign buying