Fewer visitors at showflats as new property rules bite

PHOTO: Fewer visitors at showflats as new property rules bite

SINGAPORE - Showflats across the island took an immediate hit a day after a slew of tough property cooling measures were unveiled.

Friday saw the introduction of a range of measures including higher additional buyers' stamp duty as well as stricter borrowing limits.

The number of buyers visiting showflats of eCo in Bedok South, d'Leedon on the former Farrer Court site and Echelon next to Redhill MRT station had thinned.

The notable exception, however, was La Fiesta, next to Sengkang MRT station, which was still very busy, with many buyers flocking to its showflat along Sengkang Square, undaunted by the seventh and most extensive round of measures.

The 810-unit project had scrambled to bring forward its launch to Friday night from its original launch date this Tuesday to beat the clock on the new measures.

The Sunday Times understands that the project has sold "a few hundred units" at average prices of between $1,100 and $1,200 per sq ft.

Those scouting around at the showflats said they were hoping that developers might have lowered prices. The measures target investor demand and do not affect first-time home buyers.

Senior financial consultant Edmund Wee, 44, who was at the d'Leedon showflat, said he is happy with the measures as he is a "genuine" home buyer. He has been renting an apartment for the past eight months.

"(The measures) will benefit those who are not using property as investment... We won't be buying immediately, but will be shopping around the next few months, when the impact of the measures can be seen," he added.

At d'Leedon, Ms Juvian Cheah, 37, was cheered by the latest measures.

"As someone who is single and in my 30s, and looking for a place of my own, I'm very happy with the cooling measures and I hope it will keep speculators out of the market and calm prices down," she said.

First-time home buyer Ms Hong, who declined to give her full name, was also at d'Leedon. The 30-year-old said she has been shopping for a home for the past year but has been put off by the prices.

"Hopefully, this round of cooling measures will help. I'm not sure it addresses some of the key problems, such as the issue of cash-rich foreigners, but it's a start.

"It also remains to be seen whether the increase in the quantum of the stamp duty is sufficient, and whether the measures will stamp out Singaporeans' desire to use property as a means of investment," she added.

Those who were looking for an investment property, however, were disheartened.

Accountant Mark Hew, 41, said he was originally interested in buying a home for investment and visited the La Fiesta showflat to get a feel for the market.

But the tough new measures, which include higher stamp duties and rules limiting buyers on how much they can borrow, have put his plans on hold.

"I'm not buying any more... The higher cash down payment is the main deterrent for us," he said.

Some developers pushed out new promotions in a bid to alleviate the sting of the measures.

Far East Organisation, for instance, is offering a 5 per cent discount across the board for all its projects this weekend. The developer also kept some of its showflats open till late on Friday night.

Mr Chia Boon Kuah, Far East's chief operating officer of property sales, said 38 units were sold at its projects on Friday.

The limited-period discount of 5per cent this weekend is also meant to "assist buyers who had been considering our properties, but were not able to act before the latest round of measures took effect", he added.

"We will continue to monitor the situation and respond to the needs of home buyers, to contribute to stable and sustainable value in the property assets of end users and investors in Singapore," Mr Chia said.