Complete Property Market Updates of Singapore

June 11, 2008

Property seems paler, but it’s anyone’s call

Filed under: Developer News,General,Regulators — Propertymarketupdates @ 2:04 am

Volumes shrink, prices weaken but some segments are holding firm

BASED on the latest monthly developer sales data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), property prices could be on the downward trend.

Developer sales fell, with April seeing only 274 transactions. This is about 9 per cent lower than the 301 units sold in March, though still higher than the 174 units sold in February.

And while it is difficult to accurately pinpoint price movements with such low volume, an analysis by Knight Frank of overall median prices achieved nevertheless registered an 8.9 per cent drop in April, falling to $943 psf compared to $1,035 psf in March.

The peak median price of over $1,400 psf was reached in August 2007.

Knight Frank director (research and consultancy) Nicholas Mak also explained that the analysis was a ‘median of median prices’, and so may not be a precise reflection of price movements.

Mr Mak also said that applying a different mode of analysis to the same data – the formula used to calculate URA’s quarterly property price index for instance – could even show that prices have increased slightly.

Still, a comparison of monthly median prices of recently launched developments does suggest that prices could be falling.

The 79-unit Blu Coral was launched in February with nine units sold at a median price of $872 psf. In March, 28 units were sold at a median price of $802 psf, while in April, 18 units were sold at a median price of $657.

Similarly, 53 units of the 106-unit, The Verve, were launched in March with 36 units sold at a median price of $1,187 psf. In April, 8 units were sold at a median price of $1,055 psf.

And nine units of the 625-unit, The Quartz, were sold in March at a median price of $742 psf, followed by 14 units sold in April at a median price of $721 psf.

Interestingly, one unit of Waterfront Waves was sold at $909 psf in April, higher than the median price of $806 in March when 14 units were sold.

Perhaps another indication of the weakening market is that 43 units of 659-unit The Parc Condominium, previously reported as being fully sold, have re-emerged on the market. According to the monthly data, the returned units first appeared in February.

A source that did not want to be named also said that these units were returned by buyers who chose not to exercise their options, forfeiting a quarter of the 5 per cent downpayment in the process.

Jones Lang LaSalle head of research (South-East Asia) Chua Yang Liang has also analysed median prices as a measure of volatility and suggests that this has increased in the Outside Central Region (OCR).

Dr Chua explained that volatility, as a measure of how wide market prices are per unit dollar of the median price achieved could also reflect, ‘the market’s speculative level’. As such, he said: ‘It would appear that upgraders may be returning, with entry level projects that are moderately priced between $750 to $850 psf as the preferred choice.’

Supporting this were the healthy sales of the 56-unit Stadia at Yio Chu Kang, which saw 52 units sold. Two units were sold for under $750 psf while the remaining 50 were sold at between $750 and $1,000 psf.

In the OCR, Dr Chua said based on the analysis, median prices continued to soften by 4.2 per cent. But he also added that the analysis was just an ‘indication of the market’s mood’, and does not account for product differentiation or physical attributes of each development.

While the volume of sales was low in the Central Core Region with just 19 non-landed homes transacted, Dr Chua believes that the low volatility in median prices there suggests that market activity and future prices in the high end market are likely to remain stable.

Also holding this view is CB Richard Ellis Research executive director Li Hiaw Ho who noted that two units in Scotts Square were sold at around $4,300 psf, a unit at Orchard Scotts was sold at $2,520 psf and two units at Skypark were sold at around $2,300 psf.

‘Although high-value transactions were limited, the individual transactions seemed to indicate that prices in the high-end market were still holding firm,’ he added.

The analysis of price movements will however, remain an academic one, and as such will remain open to debate.

Colliers International director (research and advisory) Tay Huey Ying said there were too few transactions at the higher end of the market to comment fairly on the sector.

And even for the OCR, she noted that the median transacted price for mass-market units averaged $792 psf in April, about 8 per cent higher than the average median price of $729 in August 2007 when the highest sale volume for the sector was registered.

Source : Business Times – 16 May 2008


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