Sales of developers drop 44.9% in September, smaller projects are launched in Ghost Month

The rising geopolitical tensions around the world and the potential consequences of the recent conflict in the Middle East may also dampen the spirits in the real estate market.

Analysts expect that the future is likely to be a slow one for buyers and developers because of the rising interest rates and macroeconomic uncertainty.

The ECs were the sole bright spot, with 118 units sold last month. The demand for ECs has been extremely strong because price-sensitive buyers are looking for alternatives to private homes. Eligible buyers of ECs can also qualify to get ABSD upfront Remission.

In September ECs 335 units were sold and 68 units launched. In August, 649 units were sold and 950 were launched.

Of the 118 EC units, around 100 came from Altura located in Bukit Batok, the sole EC project to be launched this year. This brought overall sales at the project to 88 per cent. Altura was also the top-selling project for the second consecutive month, with units being sold for a median of S$1,473 per square foot (psf) in September.

Due to the wide range of products available in the marketplace, consumers have become more selective in their selections.

According to data published by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Monday (Oct 16), developers sold a total of 217 private homes in September, a decrease of 44.9 percent from 394 units that were sold in August.

The cooling measures that were implemented in April contributed to the “cloudy” and “slightly chilly” buyer sentiment.

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The sales of property in the OCR dropped 64 percent month over month, to 70 units. In the Rest of Central Region, it dropped 33 percent between the months.

Market watchers are predicting that the number of private home sales without ECs, will range between 6,000 and 7,000 this year – a tad less than the 7,099 units sold last year.

It’s not too surprising that home sales fell following the Hungry Ghost Festival, which was over in mid-September.

Just one new project was launched in September which was a 999-year leasehold The Shorefront at Jalan Loyang Besar in the Outside Central Region (OCR) and had three units sold at a median price of S$1,902 per square foot.

The most recent September sales figures that excludes executive condominiums (ECs) are less than a quarter of 987 units that were sold in the same month in 2022. It is also the month that has the lowest number of sales in the year thus far, in addition to the month of December 2022 when developers sold 170 units.

The quantity of private home sales declined in September due to the absence of any new projects that were launched in the unfortunate Hungry Ghost Festival.

Last month, Altura set a new benchmark price for the EC market as selling 980 square feet of space for S$1.6 million, or S$1,585 per sq ft, he added. This eclipses the previous psf price high held by Copen Grand, which stood at a price of S$1,499 psf.

The freehold Pullman Residences Newton was a distant second, with 21 units sold for an average price of S$3,258 psf. In the three segments of the market that were available, the Core Central Region (CCR) held up “relatively better” than the two other segments. The 76 units in CCR comprised 35 percent of condo and private apartment sales during September.

Buyers are weighing the increased Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) against borrowing costs as well as widespread inflation, uncertainty about the economy, and an increasing number of public housing options in the form of Build-To-Order launches in good areas.

Developers will have to be sensitive in pricing for these coming projects to help increase the volume of sales. There won’t be significant price reductions as the developers are already committed to capital expenses.

Developers may choose to delay launches until 2024, when rates stabilize and sentiment increases, due to lower sentiment and the still high interest rates and because of the December holiday season.

This brings the number of primary home sales for the first nine months of 2023 at 5,407 units, which is 15.6 per cent lower than the 6,409 units transacted during the same time the previous year. This is the lowest level since 2016, when 5,656 homes were sold.

In the days leading up to the festival, old belief systems have some buyers staying away from home purchases. Developers may also avoid making announcements about new ventures during this time.

The OCR will be the main focus of most major project launches in the near future. The 265-unit Lentoria as well as the 474-unit Hillock Green are both part of the newly constructed Lentor Hills Estate. In Jurong, the J’den Condo, located on the former JCube Mall, will feature 368 units. The 440-unit Sora condominium, located at Yuan Ching Road, will also be constructed. The 341-unit Hillhaven is located in Hillview Rise.

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