Over the past three years, the government has repeatedly said that it is “too early” or “premature” for the property cooling measures to be lifted. This was despite increasingly strident calls by property developers and other industry players for some of the more punitive measures to be tweaked.

It therefore came as a surprise when the government announced a recalibration in policy that included a reduction in the seller’s stamp duty (SSD); a relaxation of the total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) for mortgage equity withdrawal loans with loan-to-value ratios of 50% or less; and additional conveyance duty (ACD) on the transfer of equity interest in property-holding entities.

“While the adjustments to the SSD and TDSR may not have a significant impact on the market, it is the signal that they are sending that is expected to have a positive impact,” says Ong Teck Hui, JLL national director of research. He adds that the policy relaxation is likely to be viewed as “the beginning of the unwinding of cooling measures”. And this could lead to more buyers coming back to the market.

On the flip side, with the expectation that more measures could be unwound, some buyers may adopt a wait-and-see attitude. However, Ong reckons buyers perceive that the market is bottoming and are hopeful of a price recovery. “Transaction volume, which has been increasing in the last two years, is likely to pick up further and some upside to prices can be expected,” he says.

‘Priced to sell’

Riding on the momentum, CapitaLand officially launched Marine Blue on March 18 and 19. The 124-unit freehold project is located on Marine Parade Road, adjacent to the Grand Mercure Roxy Hotel and opposite the Parkway Parade shopping centre. Construction for the upcoming Marine Parade MRT station at Marine Blue’s doorstep is underway. The project is also in the vicinity of top schools such as CHIJ (Katong) Primary School, Tao Nan School, Chung Cheng High School and Victoria Junior College.

The showflat of a strata pool terrace unit at Marine Blue with double-volume ceiling height in the living and dining area and en suite lap pool. Priced from $4.87 million, it is available to foreigners as well.

Of the 124 units at Marine Blue, 93.5% are one-bedroom-plus-study units, two-bedroom units and one-bedroom-plus-study loft suites. There are 74 one-bedroom-plus-study units of 635 to 980 sq ft. Two-bedders of 1,044 to 1,141 sq ft account for 14 units, while one-bedroom-plus- study loft suites with 6m ceiling height make up 28 units. The loft suites have sizes of 1,270 to 1,593 sq ft.

Marine Blue had its soft launch in January 2015 and 38 units have been sold so far, at an average price of $1,781 psf, based on caveats lodged with URA Realis. In fact, all the two-bedroom units have been snapped up. Only 86 units are still available, of which over 90% are one-bedroom-plus-study units and loft suites, which are priced from $1.13 million to $1.67 million.

According to Wen Khai Meng, CEO of CapitaLand Singapore, Marine Blue is “priced to sell”, with more than 60% of the units pegged below $1.4 million and 90% below $1.7 million.