New condo sales in 2014 bring little cheer

Developers in Singapore were denied any Christmas cheer, as the property market last year ended with a whimper amid the worst sales in six years.

Just 230 new condominium units were sold last month, down from the 423 units sold in November. It was also the worst month of sales since January 2009, when 108 apartments were sold.

This dragged the tally for last year to 7,378 units - the lowest since the financial crisis in 2008, when buyers bought 4,264 units.

Experts said they expected the lacklustre results, although the full year's results fell slightly below their forecasts of 8,000 units.

"Developers had already written off December for new launches, due to low interest from buyers during the year-end holiday period, which would have exacerbated the already weak demand resulting from the cooling measures," said Mr Ong Teck Hui, national director of research and consultancy at JLL.

As a result, only 53 private condo units from older projects were put up for sale last month, in marked contrast with the 863 units in November.

The grim end to the year was underscored by the fact that the top seller last month was Lakeville, even though only 16 units were sold at the 696-unit MCL Land project in Lakeside. Units were sold for a median price of $1,259 per sq ft (psf).

Frasers Centrepoint's 495-unit Rivertree Residences in Sengkang was second, with 13 units sold at a median of $1,019 psf. The Panorama, a 698-unit development by Wheelock Properties in Ang Mo Kio, was third, with 12 units sold at a median price of $1,207 psf.

On the executive condominium front, all 747 units at Kheng Leong's The Terrace in Punggol were launched but found only 128 buyers at a median price of $813 psf.

In the face of sagging transaction volumes, developers are likely to moderate prices gradually to shift units, said Ms Chia Siew Chuin, director of research and advisory at Colliers International. This, she said, is set to underpin sales momentum, placing sales for the new year at 7,000 to 8,000 units.

But things could improve this year, said Mr Ong, as buyers are timing their purchases in anticipation of the unwinding of cooling measures. He said: "Many see 2016 as a possibility, perhaps even late 2015. By then, prices are likely to have corrected by more than 10 per cent. This could result in more buyers re-entering the market in the later part of the year, enticed by lower prices and before measures are eased."

Large projects such as GuocoLand's 1,024-unit Sims Urban Oasis in Sims Avenue, and Frasers Centrepoint's 920-unit NorthPark Residences in Yishun are set to hit the market in the next two months, placing expected sales volume between 2,000 units and 2,500 units for the quarter.

This article was first published on Jnauary 16, 2015.
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