New home sales for November lowest in 2012

DEVELOPER sales, excluding executive condominiums (ECs), dropped 44% in November to ring in at 1,087 units. This is the lowest monthly home sales figure for the year to date. It's largely due to an 81% drop in new launches, and the impact of the sixth round of property measures that was announced in October, according to Credit Suisse in a Dec 18 report.

For the first 11 months of the year, developers launched a total of 20,476 new units, but sold 20,879, according to CBRE Research. The number of units sold outstripped launches as buyers purchased units from new and existing projects, explains Joseph Tan, executive director of residential services at CBRE. Likewise in November, only 773 new homes were launched, while 1,087 units were sold.

Demand for EC units has been equally strong in November. Out of 3,722 units launched, a total of 3,672 have been sold, which include units sold in new and existing projects, according to CBRE. Two new EC projects, The Topiary in the Yio Chu Kang-Seletar area and Citylife @ Tampines were opened for applications at end-November. The Topiary has reportedly sold 230 of its 700 units, while Citylife @ Tampines has received about 1,800 e-applications for its 514 units. The sales from these two projects will be included in the sales for December and will bring the total number of ECs sold in 2012 to more than 4,000 units.

Private home sales for the year are expected to exceed 21,000 despite December being a traditionally slow month, adds CBRE. Echelon at Alexandra View previewed recently and Forestville EC in Woodlands started e-applications on Dec 22.

Despite the low number of units launched, the market share of the prime Core Central Region (CCR) increased from 7.4% in October to 19.2% in November, its highest level year-to-date. Some 209 units were sold in the CCR, representing a 45% month-on-month increase compared with a decline of 43% between September and October, according to Jones Lang LaSalle's national director of research & consultancy, Ong Teck Hui.

Scattered transactions showed that there is still interest in the CCR, notes CBRE's Tan. Some 10 small offfice/home office units in Far East Organization's Scotts Tower were sold in November at a median price of S$3,459 psf. A unit at Wheelock Properties' Scotts Square went for S$4,244 psf last month, bringing the total sold to 267 out of 338 units launched. To date, a total of eight units at Eden Residences Capital have been sold at around S$3,000 psf.

The market share of the mid-tier, city-fringe area remained largely unchanged at about 15%. Although the number of new private mass-market homes sold in November was halved to 711 units, it still made up two-thirds of the market share of the primary segment for the month, notes Nicholas Mak, executive director, research and consultancy, SLP International Property Consultants.

Alan Cheong, head of research at Savills, highlights that the days of high 1,000 to more than 2,000 units in monthly new home sales may soon be a thing of the past as this year's numbers were elevated by an aggressive government land sales (GLS) programme in 2011. He predicts that with the GLS programme producing units at a more sedate pace, annual sales for the non-EC market may fall to 10,000 to 12,000 units from 2013 to 1H2014. This works out to an average of 830 to 1,000 units in monthly sales.

This story first appeared in The Edge Singapore weekly edition of Dec 24-31, 2012.

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