Buyer-seller deadlock: Who will blink first?

Buyer-seller deadlock: Who will blink first?

SINGAPORE - Location, location, location isn't the only mantra with property investments. For every willing buyer, there must be a willing seller.

But after seven rounds of cooling measures here, the property scene appears to be shaping up to be a duel between the unwilling buyer and unwilling seller.

HDB'S latest data shows the number of resale flats exchanging hands in the first quarter of this year at its lowest since 1997, with a 23 per cent drop to 4,335 transactions from 5,631 in the last quarter of last year. Prices also rose at a slower rate - 1.3 per cent versus 2.5 per cent in the previous quarter.

Buyers, noticing a slowdown in the rate of price increase, are waiting to see if prices will begin to go down. But sellers are refusing to budge on their asking price in the belief that the market is still buoyant.

The big question: Who is likely to blink first?

Unwilling seller

Mr Cheah Kian Choong, a property director at I-Realty, has a seller who refuses to let go of his four-room flat at Bukit Batok unless the cash-over-valuation (COV) hits $50,000.

The latest median COV for a four-roomer in Bukit Batok is $34,000.

"It's a rare corner-unit and near the MRT, so the seller doesn't see the need to lower his prices," he said.

"A year ago, such a unit would have been snapped up in three weeks maximum. It's been two months and this flat is still not sold."

But some buyers still managed to drive down prices.

Property agent Mike Poon of Teckhwa Real Estate recalled how one buyer managed to bring down the COV of a five-room flat at Bishan by almost half of what the seller was asking for.

Mr Poon, a property agent of nine years, said the owner was asking for more than $100,000 COV. But in the end, he blinked.

The flat, which was marketed at the beginning of this month, was sold with $60,000 COV after two weeks.

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