[UPDATE] New home sales for May could surprise on the upside despite dearth of launches

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/ EdgeProp Singapore
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June 10, 2020 7:40 PM SGT
SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - New private home sales in the month of May could end up higher than initially projected, at about 480 units based on caveats lodged to date, estimates Ismail Gafoor, CEO of PropNex Realty. This is 73% higher than the 277 new homes sold in April. Since the circuit breaker period started on April 7, no physical viewing of properties has been allowed. Developers’ sales galleries have also remained closed until further notice.
EDGEPROP SINGAPORE -  Parc Clematis, one of the top-selling developments last month, was initially launched for sale in September 2019. (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
Parc Clematis, one of the top-selling developments last month, was initially launched for sale in September 2019. (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
Knight Frank Singapore's research figures show a similar trend, with new homes sold at 484 units. “The new home sales volume that dominated private residential transactions in May, notwithstanding the closure of showflats during that period, is somewhat counter-intuitive to conventional sense," says Leonard Tay, head of research at Knight Frank Singapore. The figures show homebuyers exhibiting "a degree of adjustment and adaptation" under the current circumstances.
EDGEPROP SINGAPORE - NUMBER OF PRIVATE RESIDENTIAL CAVEATS
Source: Knight Frank
Data compiled by PropNex Realty showed the trend in the increase over the five weeks from May 4 to June 7, where a total of 615 new homes were sold (See table below). Of these units, PropNex agents brokered 363 or 59%. The sales figures are based on the projects where PropNex is one of the appointed marketing agents, and that accounts for about 90% of new projects launched, reckons Gafoor.
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EDGEPROP SINGAPORE - NEW HOME SALES MAY 4 TO JUNE 7
Best-performing projects last month were located in the suburbs or Outside Central Region (OCR), and comprised mega projects that were launched last year. These included the 1,468-unit Parc Clematis by SingHaiyi, the 1,410-unit The Florence Residences by Logan Property, and the 2,203-unit Treasure at Tampines by Sim Lian Group.
“Developments which were launched earlier and are priced attractively seem to be the winners in the current market situation,” notes Gafoor. “New home buyers appear to be looking for properties with the right entry price.”
HDB upgraders make up a significant proportion of the demand for these projects, notes Gafoor. Small one- and two-bedroom units with relatively low absolute prices have also attracted investors, he adds.
EDGEPROP SINGAPORE -  Bukit Sembawang Estates sold 12 units at the luxury 8 St Thomas condo over the June 6-7 weekend, as part of a circuit breaker sale. (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
Bukit Sembawang Estates sold 12 units at the luxury 8 St Thomas condo over the June 6-7 weekend, as part of a circuit breaker sale. (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)

CCR projects with attractive prices, limited offers

Even in the high-end condominium projects in prime districts or the Core Central Region (CCR), some developers have dangled special discounts for a limited time period. Over the weekend of June 6-7, listed property developer Bukit Sembawang Estates launched a circuit breaker promotion for some of its available units at 8 St Thomas, a completed, 250-unit freehold luxury development in prime District 9.
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According to a Bukit Sembawang spokesperson, 12 units were sold during the weekend sale. Half of the buyers were locals, with foreigners making up the other half. Some bought units for their own use, while others purchased for investment. There was even a bulk purchase of some of the units. “Over the last few months, we continued to see demand from both local and foreign home buyers for our units at 8 St Thomas, which serves as a testament to the enduring value of high quality developments among discerning buyers,” says the spokesperson.
To date, 150 (60%) of the units at 8 St Thomas have been sold at an average price of $3,100 psf. All the one-bedroom units have been snapped up, and prices for the remaining two- to four-bedroom units range from $2.5 million to $5.5 million. The developer will be rolling out a new deferred payment scheme for 8 St Thomas to provide more flexibility to buyers. The project was completed in early 2018.
EDGEPROP SINGAPORE -  The 1,042-unit Marina One Residences at Marina Way saw more than 30 units sold over the nine weeks since the start of the circuit breaker. (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
The 1,042-unit Marina One Residences at Marina Way saw more than 30 units sold over the nine weeks since the start of the circuit breaker. (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
The 1,042-unit Marina One Residences at Marina Way saw more than 30 units sold over the nine weeks since the start of the circuit breaker, says PropNex’s Gafoor. “This is not because the developer offered any special discounts during the circuit breaker, but because the prices at Marina One Residences are perceived to be very attractive compared to some of the new launches,” he notes.
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Based on caveats lodged in April and May, units at Marina One Residences have been sold at prices ranging from $1.64 million ($2,211 psf) to $3.99 million ($2,648 psf). The developer, M+S, said a total of 837 units have been sold as at June 3, which means the 99-year leasehold project is 80.3% taken up, with only 205 units still available.
Elsewhere in the CCR, Prominent Land offered the remaining 16 units at its boutique, 27-unit freehold development, 38 Jervois, for sale by expressions of interest. The developer offered discounts ranging from $275,000 for an 818 sq ft, three-bedroom unit, to $547,320 for a 915 sq ft, three-bedroom unit. These translate to discounts of 13% to 24% from the list prices. The units were offered for sale by ERA Realty, with expressions of interest to close on June 14.
About 11 units at 38 Jervois were sold from December 2016 to June 2019 at prices ranging from $1.08 million ($2,280 psf) for a 474 sq ft, one-bedder, to $2.28 million ($2,492 psf) for a 915 sq ft, three-bedroom unit.
Mass-market developments in the suburbs are still popular among buyers. Treasure at Tampines continued to be among the best-selling projects through the circuit breaker period. (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)

New homes account for 53% of deals done

According to ERA, about 53% of the deals done in the five weeks from May 4 to June 7 were for new projects, with the remaining 47% being private resale transactions. “This implies that more are buying with a longer-term perspective — that’s why we see more new project sales than resale transactions,” says Eugene Lim, key executive officer of ERA.
For property agents, the extended circuit breaker period is a time when “the market has undergone a reset”, notes Lim. “There was also reinvention as virtual viewings and closings took centre stage,” he adds. “In the post-circuit breaker period, we expect markets to gradually reopen and recover. This means we expect demand and transactions to pick up, and prices to gradually recover.”
Lim also hopes that when Singapore transitions to the second phase of reopening, the government will allow property agents to meet sellers and buyers face-to-face, as well as allow physical viewings to take place and developers’ sales galleries to open.
While preliminary sales of new private units last month may look encouraging, PropNex's Gafoor acknowledges that they may not fully reflect the overall private property market, since only a handful of projects contributed to the bulk of the monthly sales figures (See Table below). "Sales are also a far cry from typical market performance," he says.
For the whole of 2019, URA figures show a total of 10,164 private new homes (excluding executive condos) were sold. This was on the back of 55 new project launches last year. The average monthly new home sales last year was 847. Meanwhile, in April this year, developers managed to move only 277 new private homes and in May, about 480 units, Gafoor points out. "Property sales are still hampered by the continued closure of showflats and restrictions on physical property viewings," he says. “Unfortunately, due to health and safety concerns, it seems like Phase 1 is an extension of the circuit breaker period for property agents. We look forward for greater clarity from the government regarding the conduct of real estate business in the next phase as ensuring business continuity is important."
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