MARKET UPDATES

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Maxwell House up for collective sale with reserve price of $295m

Maxwell House, which has been around since 1971, is up for collective sale with a new mixed-use commercial and residential project or hotel possibly taking over the site. Owners of the 13-storey building at 20 Maxwell Road have set a reserve price of $295 million, sales consultant Cushman & Wakefield said yesterday. The block comprises mainly offices and sits on a trapezoidal island site of about 41,801 square feet (sq ft), with views from all four sides of the building. The site has a plot ratio of 4.3 under the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) Master Plan 2019. But Cushman & Wakefield noted that the URA said in January last year that it would support a mixed-use commercial and residential development with a 30 per cent higher plot ratio of 5.6, and a gross floor area (GFA) of 234,086 sq ft. This is subject to a rezoning. Another caveat is that the commercial part of the new project must not exceed 20 per cent of the total GFA. The allowable building height has also been increased to 21 storeys. Assuming 80 per cent of the total GFA is for residential use and the remaining 20 per cent for commercial, the blended land rate works out to approximately $1,691 per sq ft (psf) per plot ratio. This is after factoring in a 7 per cent bonus balcony plot ratio and differential premium and estimated lease upgrading premium for the site. Cushman & Wakefield said the site could be redeveloped into a hotel, with a plot ratio 5.6. This option would increase the land rate to $1,998 psf per plot ratio, also inclusive of the differential premium and estimated lease upgrading premium. Maxwell House sits at the fringe of the Central Business District but is also near the conservation shophouse enclaves of Tanjong Pagar and Chinatown and within a few minutes' walk of Maxwell Food Centre and the Tanjong Pagar and Chinatown MRT stations. The upcoming underground Maxwell MRT station on the Thomson-East Coast Line is expected to be completed in 2022. Given that it is in an area comprising mainly shops, food and beverage outlets and offices, the Maxwell House site will be "one of the rare exceptional residential plots" available on the market, Cushman & Wakefield said. Ms Christina Sim, director of capital markets at Cushman & Wakefield, said: "Maxwell House is expected to be well-received as there is a dearth of residential development land in this part of the business and heritage district." She added that it "will be one of the best 'work-live-play' sites to be made available". As the property is in the central area, it is not constrained by guidelines on the maximum allowable number of units calculated based on an average size of 85 square metres per unit, Ms Sim added. This means developers have the flexibility of building studios or dual-key units. The public tender closes at 3pm on Nov 12.

Source: Straits Times
Dated:

Maxwell House up for collective sale with reserve price of $295 million

SINGAPORE - Maxwell House, which has been around since 1971, is up for collective sale, with the possibility of a new mixed-use commercial and residential development or hotel taking over the site. Owners holding not less than 80 per cent by strata area and share value have agreed to put the property on the market at a reserve price of $295 million, property consultant for the sale Cushman & Wakefield said on Monday (Sept 21). Located at 20 Maxwell Road, the 13-storey building comprises mainly of offices. It sits on a trapezoidal island land parcel with views from all four sides of the building. The site covers a land area of about 41,801 sq ft, zoned for commercial use with a plot ratio of 4.3 under the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) Master Plan 2019. But Cushman & Wakefield said that URA had said in advice given in January 2019 that it will support a mixed-use commercial and residential development with a 30 per cent higher plot ratio of 5.6, and a gross floor area (GFA) of 234,086 sq ft. This is subject to a successful rezoning. Another caveat is that the commercial quantum if the new development must not exceed 20 per cent of the total GFA. The allowable building height has also been increased to about 21 storeys for the tower block. Assuming 80 per cent of the total GFA is for residential use and the remaining 20 per cent for commercial use, the blended land rate works out to approximately $1,691 per sq ft per plot ratio, after factoring in a 7 per cent bonus balcony plot ratio and differential premium and estimated lease upgrading premium for the site. Cushman & Wakefield also said that the Maxwell House site could possibly be redeveloped for a hotel, with a plot ratio of 5.6, subject to approval from the relevant authorities. The hotel option would increase the land rate to $1,998 per sq ft per plot ratio, also inclusive of the differential premium and estimated lease upgrading premium. Maxwell House sits at the fringe of the Central Business District, but is also near the conservation shophouse enclaves of Tanjong Pagar and Chinatown. It is within a few minutes' walking distance to Maxwell Food Centre and the Tanjong Pagar and Chinatown MRT stations. The upcoming underground Maxwell MRT station along the Thomson East Coast Line is expected to be completed in 2022. Given that it is located in an area comprising mainly shops, food and beverage outlets and offices, the Maxwell House site will be "one of the rare exceptional residential plots" available on the market, Cushman & Wakefield said. Ms Christina Sim, director of capital markets at Cushman & Wakefield, said: "Maxwell House is expected to be well received as there is a dearth of residential development land in this part of the business and heritage district. With the surrounding neighbourhood filled with a plethora of entertainment and retail outlets plus a smorgasbord offering of much-loved Singaporean food, it will be one of the best 'work-live-play' sites to be made available." The property also has the advantage of being in the central area where it is not constrained by the guideline on the maximum allowable number of units calculated based on an average size of 85 sq m per dwelling unit, she added.. This means potential developers have the creative flexibility of building studio units or dual key units, subject to approval, she said. The public tender for the site will close on Nov 12 at 3pm.

Source: Straits Times
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New home sales surge to 11-month high in August

Hungry ghosts were no match for hungry home buyers as new home sales jumped to an 11-month high last month, with developers selling 1,256 non-landed private homes, up 16.3 per cent from the 1,080 private homes sold in July. Year on year, sales were up 11.8 per cent from 1,123. Instead of slowing during the typically quiet Hungry Ghost month, new home sales surged for a fourth straight month amid Singapore's worst recession. Last month's sales marked the best August performance in eight years, noted Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie. In contrast, only 325 new units were sold in August 2008 amid the global financial crisis, and just 756 in August 2013 after a round of cooling measures. Attractively priced new freehold launches coupled with pent-up demand, following a two-month-long circuit breaker when show-flats were shut, spurred sales last month. Analysts also cited low interest rates and a segment of buyers with still-healthy job prospects. Mr Ong Teck Hui, senior director of research and consultancy at JLL, cited bright spots in the economy where some businesses are stable or even growing. These include the technology, biomedical, healthcare, electronics and precision engineering sectors. "Those in more stable employment would have greater confidence in purchasing a property despite the recession, " he said. The 0.3 per cent increase in the Urban Redevelopment Authority's (URA) second-quarter private residential price index may have fuelled the perception that prices, at worst, may soften slightly. This may have prompted some home buyers to take the plunge, Mr Ong added. More new units were launched ahead of the Hungry Ghost month, which started on Aug 19. There were 1,582 private homes launched last month, up 82 per cent from 869 units in July, and nearly 56 per cent higher than 1,015 units a year ago. The figures exclude executive condominium (EC) units, which are a public-private housing hybrid. Last month's take-up was led by projects in the city fringe, or the rest of central region, with 622 sales, followed by 506 units sold in the suburbs, or outside the central region, and 128 in prime districts, or the core central region, according to JLL. The three new launches - Forett At Bukit Timah, Noma and Mooi Residences - made up 19.1 per cent of total sales last month. Forett At Bukit Timah sold 213 units, or 34 per cent of its 633 units, in the first month of its launch, "a rather outstanding performance, due to the freehold land tenure and competitive price point of $1,933 psf. Efficient layouts meant that median price quantum per unit works out to be $1.45 million, which fits the sweet spot for most families", said Ms Tricia Song, head of research for Singapore at Colliers International. Noma, a 50-unit freehold development in Geylang, sold 34 units, or 68 per cent, within a weekend after it offered early-bird discounts, with one-bedders starting at $600,000 and two-bedroom units starting at $900,000, Ms Song said. Including EC units,1,307 new homes were taken up last month, up 14.4 per cent from July, and about 12 per cent higher than 1,168 a year ago, the URA data showed. Sales picked up for earlier launches like The Garden Residences and The Woodleigh Residences - both overtook Jadescape to make the top five best-selling condominiums. Ms Song said last month's sales also showed strong interest for attractively priced freehold city fringe projects. Last month, city fringe projects accounted for the bulk of sales at 49.5 per cent, compared with 38.8 per cent in July. The suburbs, or the proxy for the mass market segment, made up 40.3 per cent of total sales last month, compared with 50.7 per cent in July. With the gradual reopening of the economy and the setting up of fast lanes for essential travel, the number of transactions from foreign buyers rose 74 per cent to 54 last month from 31 in July, PropNex chief executive Ismail Gafoor said.

Source: Straits Times
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Hungry ghosts, recession no match for Singapore buyers as new home sales hit 11-month high

Bucking Singapore's worst recession and the Hungry Ghost month, new home sales in Singapore continued to rise for a fourth straight month, reaching the highest since September 2019. Developers in August sold 1,256 private homes, up 16.3 per cent from 1,080 units in July, according to figures released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Tuesday (Sept 15). Year on year, sales rose 11.8 per cent from 1,123 units in August 2019. The figures exclude executive condominium (EC) units, which are a public-private housing hybrid. More new units were launched - particularly those from Forett at Bukit Timah, ahead of the Hungry Ghost Festival, which started on Aug 19. There were 1,582 private homes launched in August, up 82 per cent from 869 units in July, and nearly 56 per cent higher than 1,015 units a year ago. Instead of slowing during the typically quiet Hungry Ghost month, new home sales grew faster than expected after the circuit breaker period ended on June 1. The two-month lockdown had upended sales and planned launches in April and May with show-flat closures. Including EC units,1,307 new homes were taken up last month, up 14.4 per cent from July, and about 12 per cent higher than 1,168 a year ago, the URA data showed. New sales were driven mainly by Forett at Bukit Timah, Treasure at Tampines, Parc Clematis, The Garden Residences, The Woodleigh Residences, Jadescape and Whistler Grand. Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie, noted that last month's sales were the best August performance in eight years. Case in point: 325 new homes were sold in August 2008 amid the global financial crisis. After fresh rounds of cooling measures were implemented,756 units were sold in August 2013 and 617 units in August 2018. The rising economic uncertainties and volatile equity markets "seemed to be fuelling the boom for properties as more buyers seek shelter in safe-haven assets" amid record low interest rates, Ms Sun said. Mr Ong Teck Hui, senior director of research & consultancy at JLL cited bright spots in the economy where some businesses are stable or even growing. These include technology, biomedical, healthcare, electronics and precision engineering. "Those in more stable employment would have greater confidence in purchasing a property despite the recession, " he said. The 0.3 per cent increase in the URA private residential price index in the second quarter may fuel the perception that prices at worst, may soften only slightly. As a result, some homebuyers may feel it isn't worthwhile waiting for a major price correction, he added. Ms Tricia Song, Colliers International's head of research for Singapore, said August's sales also showed buyers' strong interest for attractively-priced freehold city fringe projects. In August, the city fringe projects accounted for the bulk of sales at 49.5 per cent, compared with 38.8 per cent in July. The suburbs, or Outside Central Region (OCR) - the proxy for the mass market segment - made up 40.3 per cent of total sales last month, compared to 50.7 per cent in July. Colliers International estimated that 81 per cent of the total developer sales in August were priced at the median price of $1,000-$2,000 psf, compared to 83 per cent in July.

Source: Straits Times
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China home price growth accelerates as credit growth picks up

China home-price growth accelerated in August after a brief slowdown the previous month as credit growth rebounded and wider property curbs did little to dampen buyer enthusiasm. New home prices in 70 major cities, excluding state-subsidized housing, rose 0.56 per cent last month, compared to a 0.47 per cent gain in July, National Bureau of Statistics data released on Monday (Sept 14) showed. Values in the secondary market, which is largely free from government intervention, gained 0.34 per cent, compared with 0.26 per cent in July. Policy makers have in recent months stepped up regulatory caution against developers' leverage and excessive home-price growth, after frenetic buying spread from the country's biggest cities to some booming regional centers. In August, cities including Nanjing and Wuxi followed Shenzhen in tightening home-purchase rules. For now, a renewed fear of missing out on price increases and an urge to guard against anticipated inflation are sustaining housing demand. Credit growth rebounded more-than-expected in August as monetary-policy easing continues to take effect and support the recovery. "So far, the property market is much stronger than our expectation, " Macquarie Securities' head of China economics Larry Hu said before the data release. "In the next few months, property sales may continue to recover."

Source: Straits Times
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Campus-style development for one-north by end-2021

A cluster of 12 heritage bungalows in Rochester Park in Buona Vista will house a mix of office, retail and food outlets as part of a new integrated development to be built by the end of next year. These black-and-white bungalows, some of which used to be leased out to food and beverage operators, will soon be part of Singapore's first campus-style integrated development spread across 2.4ha of land in one-north, said CapitaLand in a press statement yesterday. Rochester Commons, the 400,000 sq ft project developed and managed by the company, will have a 17-storey Grade A office tower. Of the 12 bungalows, seven are for offices and the remaining five for food and beverage or retail use. The development cost for Rochester Commons is around $550 million. It will also have a hotel that will be operated by CapitaLand's lodging unit, The Ascott Limited, under the Citadines Connect brand. One of the key features of the development will be Catapult, South-east Asia's first shared executive learning centre that will use technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality to deliver training programmes. The centre, which focuses on areas such as leadership and innovation, is aimed at grooming executives for leadership agility and equipping them with future-ready skills. Some of its learning approaches have already been trialled at Catapult's showroom at the Bridge+ co-working space in the Ascent building at Singapore Science Park 1. The showroom's centrepiece is a 180-degree immersive screen that allows shared VR viewing experience during workshops and is equipped with virtual conferencing capabilities. CapitaLand Singapore's chief executive Tan Yew Chin said: "As companies and individuals adapt to the post Covid-19 environment, executive education and reskilling will be increasingly important." "Catapult is designed to facilitate cross-learning and networking in a state-of-the-art campus. Catapult will also feature an online platform where learners and knowledge providers can learn, co-create and innovate for the future economy." CapitaLand said the development of Rochester Commons is in line with the Government's vision of a world-class learning ecosystem in the research and knowledge hub of one-north. Designed by global architecture firm Gensler, Rochester Commons will feature a single digital identity access that allows tenants to move through the entire development via facial recognition, QR code scanning or access cards. Rochester Commons, which is set to become a first-of-its-kind integrated campus-style development, will include a 17-storey office tower with over 200,000 sq ft of core and flex working spaces. Property managers can also tap a cloud-based intelligent building platform to draw on energy and space usage data to optimise building functions for users' comfort. Likewise, the 135-unit Citadines Connect Rochester Singapore hotel will offer guests a seamless tech-enabled experience via mobile keys, self check-in kiosks and service robots that perform concierge tasks. CapitaLand currently manages Galaxis, an office building with a retail podium, in one-north, and Singapore Science Park 1 and 2. The Ascott Limited manages Citadines Fusionopolis Singapore and the upcoming lyf one-north Singapore.

Source: Straits Times
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Singapore's first campus-style integrated project in one-north to be completed end-2021

Singapore's first campus-style integrated development is set to be completed in the fourth quarter of next year, said CapitaLand in a press release on Wednesday (Sept 9). Located on 2.4ha of land in one-north, Rochester Commons will have a 17-storey Grade A office tower and 12 black-and-white heritage bungalows, of which seven are for offices and the remaining five for food and beverage or retail use. The 400,000 sq ft integrated project, developed and managed by CapitaLand, will also have a hotel, which will be operated by its lodging unit, The Ascott Limited, under the Citadines Connect brand. The development cost for Rochester Commons is around $550 million. One of the key features of the integrated development is Catapult, South-east Asia's first shared executive learning centre that uses technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality to deliver training programmes. Its curriculum, which focuses on areas such as leadership and innovation, aims to groom executives for leadership agility and equip them with future-ready skills. Some of its immersive learning approaches have already been trialled at Catapult's showroom at the Bridge+ coworking space in Ascent building in Singapore Science Park 1. The centrepiece in the showroom is a 180-degree immersive screen which allows shared VR viewing experience during workshops and is equipped with virtual conferencing capabilities. CapitaLand Singapore's chief executive, Mr Tan Yew Chin, said: "As companies and individuals adapt to the post Covid-19 environment, executive education and reskilling will be increasingly important. Catapult at Rochester Commons is well-positioned to cater to this demand with programmes that focus on leadership development and grooming of talent for regional and senior roles." "More than just a standalone learning facility, Catapult is designed to facilitate cross-learning and networking in a state-of-the-art campus. Catapult will also feature an online platform where learners and knowledge providers can learn, co-create and innovate for the future economy, " he added. CapitaLand said the development of Rochester Commons is in line with the Government's vision for a world-class learning ecosystem in the research and knowledge hub of one-north, which is in the west of Singapore. Designed by global architecture firm Gensler, Rochester Commons will feature a single digital identity access that allows tenants to move through the entire integrated development via facial recognition, QR code scanning or access cards. Property managers can also tap on a cloud-based intelligent building platform to draw insights using energy and space usage data to optimise building functions for users' comfort. Likewise, the 135-unit hotel, Citadines Connect Rochester Singapore, will offer guests a seamless tech-enabled experience through mobile keys, self check-in kiosks and service robots that perform concierge tasks. Rochester Commons will also have features such as a 365m green trail, a sky garden, viewing decks and a multi-purpose outdoor court for community events. CapitaLand currently manages Galaxis, an office building with a retail podium, in one-north, along with Singapore Science Park 1 and 2. The Ascott Limited manages the Citadines Fusionopolis Singapore and the upcoming lyf one-north Singapore.

Source: Straits Times
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Condo, HDB rental volumes tumble again in August; rents hold: SRX

Rents for Housing Board flats and private apartments held steady in August but leasing took another big hit, with rental volumes falling to multi-year lows and below circuit-breaker levels, going by flash data from real estate portal SRX Property on Wednesday (Sept 9). August leasings for private condominiums and apartments tumbled 20.4 per cent month on month to 2,716 units. This is 47 per cent lower than a year ago and 42 per cent less than the five-year average volume for the month of August. The rental volume for HDB flats in August also fell, by 16.7 per cent from July to 1,025 flats. This is 46.2 per cent lower than a year ago and 44.1 per cent below the five-year average volume for that month. For condo rentals, the estimated August volumes would be the lowest since February 2014, while those for HDB flats would be the lowest since December 2010, SRX told The Straits Times. The sharp fall in rental volumes, which was also seen in July, could signal the start of a "domino effect" for the rental market, which has been hampered by an economic slowdown and rising unemployment among foreigners in Singapore, said Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie. Pointing to the job support schemes intended to help firms retain their Singaporean workers, Ms Sun added that it is "inevitable" that the reduction in foreign employment will adversely impact the leasing market temporarily. ERA Realty head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak agreed, and said that dampened demand in both the HDB and private housing market may be due to weakness in the wider employment market, which has seen job losses for some expatriates. This wider decline has not been offset by the increase in rental demand for HDB flats from Malaysian workers looking for affordable accommodation near their workplaces following the implementation of border restrictions between Malaysia and Singapore due to Covid-19. SRX flash data also showed that private apartment rents remained unchanged in August from the previous month, while HDB rents saw a small uptick of 0.3 per cent within the same period. Year on year, overall rents for private apartments in August were down by 1 per cent from a year ago and 17.3 per cent off their peak in January 2013. For HDB flats, rents slipped by 0.1 per cent from August last year and were 14.6 per cent lower than their peak in August 2013. Although the SRX rental index held steady for the private residential market in August, Ms Sun noted that rents have been falling for six consecutive months for luxury homes in the prime districts or core central region. Rents have also slipped marginally in the outlying areas or outside of central region. "The trends may indicate that more expats are moving out from prime locations to suburban areas or city fringe areas, where housing tends to be more affordable in the light of the current economic slowdown, " she said. Rental vacancies may increase in the coming months, possibly exerting some downward pressure on rents for certain locations, she said. As for HDB rents, said Mr Mak, the 0.3 per cent month-on-month increase comes as a significant number of relatively new HDB flats completed the five-year minimum occupation period this year and could be available for lease. These newer flats would command higher rentals compared with the older flats in the vicinity. As more of such newer flats enter the leasing market, they could support or even increase the overall HDB rental index, he added.

Source: Straits Times
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Private home resale volume hits 2-year high in Aug: SRX

The number of private non-landed homes resold hit a two-year high last month while prices firmed slightly in what observers see as another sign of the Singapore property market's growing recovery from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. An estimated 1,052 resale condominiums and apartments changed hands last month - up 7 per cent from July and 36.3 per cent higher than in August last year, according to flash figures from real estate portal SRX Property yesterday. The previous highest volume was achieved in July 2018 - the month when property cooling measures were announced - when 1,100 units were sold. The strong demand from HDB upgraders showed in the transactions of mass market homes in the outside central region (OCR), which accounted for nearly 60 per cent of August's resale transactions. As in July, this group of buyers entered the private resale market in greater numbers when many flats became eligible for resale following their five-year minimum occupation period. Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie, said August's stellar resales of private homes seem to be in tandem with the positive sales trends observed in other market segments. Last week's SRX flash estimate for August's HDB resale volume showed a similarly strong level of demand, with more than 2,400 HDB resale flats transacted for a third consecutive month. HDB's Build-To-Order sales launches in a number of housing estates in August were also oversubscribed many times. Based on the latest URA caveat data, new home sales, excluding executive condominiums, or ECs, also hit more than 1,200 units in August during the Hungry Ghost Month. This is the highest sales achieved over the last 12 months. The strong housing demand across the different market segments indicates that Singapore's property market could be showing some "early signs of recovery", said Ms Sun. Property sales plunged during the circuit breaker period when no housing viewings were allowed and all showflats were closed. Private resales began to rebound in July with pent-up demand and HDB upgraders nearly doubled transactions to 978 units resold from 496 units in June. Said Ms Sun: "For many Singaporeans, residential properties may still be a 'safer bet', especially for investors who are looking for stable returns during times of uncertainty. The market exuberance from the primary market may have also spread to the secondary market as opportunistic buyers are currently on the look-out for under-valued resale properties in the market. "With more than 5,000 resale condos sold in the first eight months of 2020, based on SRX data, we expect total resale volume to likely reach 7,500 to 8,000 units this year - a tad lower than the 8,949 units resold in 2019, but still a very respectable number in view of the massive disruption from the pandemic, " she said. Despite the rise in demand, resale condo prices in August remained largely stable, inching up by 0.4 per cent from July, and by the same amount over the same month last year. Both the core central region (CCR) and rest of central region (RCR) saw a marginal resale price increase of 0.3 per cent month on month, while the OCR - which is supported by a larger pool of buyers - enjoyed a slightly higher 0.5 per cent rise. Mr Nicholas Mak, ERA Realty's head of research and consultancy, said the stable price index and expanding resale volume in August indicate that sellers were not cutting prices significantly to sell their properties. At the same time, some homebuyers were defying the Hungry Ghost Month, which began in the third week of August, to seal property deals. Ms Wong Siew Ying, head of research and content at PropNex Realty, said she expects private resale prices to be relatively flat in the coming months, as the gloomy economic prospects and muted sentiment weigh on sellers' ability to raise asking prices substantially. In addition, buyers are likely to be cautious and prudent in their purchases, mindful of potential downside risks ahead, including the weaker hiring market, she said.

Source: Straits Times
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Condo resale volume hits 2-year high in August: SRX

SINGAPORE - The number of private non-landed homes resold hit a two-year high last month while prices firmed slightly in what observers see as another sign of the Singapore's property market's growing recovery from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. An estimated 1,052 resale condominiums and apartments changed hands last month - up 7 per cent from July and 36.3 per cent higher than in August last year, according to flash figures from real estate portal SRX Property on Tuesday (Sept 8). The last highest volume was achieved in July 2018 - the month when property cooling measures were announced - when 1,100 units were resold. The strong demand from HDB upgraders was evidenced by mass market homes in the outside central region (OCR) accounting for nearly 60 per cent of August's resale transactions. As in July, this group of buyers have entered the private resale market in greater numbers, with many flats becoming eligible for resale recently by obtaining their five-year minimum occupation period. Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie, said August's stellar resales of private homes seem to be in tandem with the positive sales trends observed in other market segments. Last week's SRX flash estimate for August's HDB resale volume showed a similarly strong level of demand, as more than 2,400 HDB resale flats were transacted for a third consecutive month. August's HDB Build-to-Order sales launch had also been oversubscribed many times for a number of housing estates. Based on the latest Urban Redevelopment Authority caveat data, new home sales, excluding executive condominiums or ECs, also hit more than 1,200 units in August during the Hungry Ghost Month. This is the highest sales achieved over the last 12 months. The strong housing demand across the different market segments may indicate that Singapore's property market could be showing some "early signs of recovery", said Ms Sun. Property sales had plunged during the circuit breaker period when no house viewings were allowed and all show flats were closed. Private resales began to rebound in July with pent-up demand and HDB upgraders nearly doubling transactions to 978 units resold from 496 units in June. Said Ms Sun: "For many Singaporeans, residential properties may still be a 'safer bet' especially for investors who are looking for stable returns during times of uncertainty. The market exuberance from the primary market may have also spread to the secondary market as opportunistic buyers are currently on the look-out for under-valued resale properties in the market. "With more than 5,000 resale condos sold in the first eight months of 2020 based on SRX data, we expect total resale volume to likely reach 7,500 to 8,000 units this year - a tad lower than 8,949 units resold in 2019, but still a very respectable number in view of the massive disruption from the pandemic, " she said. Despite the rise in demand, resale condo prices in August remained largely stable, inching up by 0.4 per cent from July, and by the same amount over the same month last year. Both the core central region (CCR) and rest of central region (RCR) saw a marginal resale price increase of 0.3 per cent month on month, while the OCR - which is supported by a larger pool of buyers - enjoyed a slightly higher 0.5 per cent rise. Mr Nicholas Mak, ERA Realty's head of research and consultancy said the stable price index and expanding resale volume in August indicate that sellers were not cutting prices significantly to sell their properties. At the same time, some home buyers were defying the Hungry Ghost Month, which began in the third week of August, to seal property deals. Ms Wong Siew Ying, head of research and content at Propnex Realty, said she expects private resale prices to be relatively flat in the coming months, as the gloomy economic prospects and muted sentiment weigh on sellers' ability to raise asking prices substantially. In addition, buyers are likely to be cautious and prudent in their purchase, mindful of potential downside risks ahead, including the weaker hiring market, she said. A condo unit at Hilltops in Cairnhill Circle which went for $8.4 million was August's highest transacted resale price. In the city fringes or RCR, the highest price was for a $5.1 million unit at Amber Skye in Amber Road, while the OCR's highest sale came from a $3.6 million unit at Grand Duchess at St Patrick's in Marine Parade.

Source: Straits Times
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