Quiet month expected for property sales

Ghost festival and lack of big launches spell lean month ahead, say experts

SUPERSTITION is likely to get the better of some buyers during the rest of this month as the effects of the traditionally quiet Hungry Ghost Festival begin to be felt.

During the festival – which started yesterday and will last until Sept 7 – superstitious individuals shun major commitments such as buying a property or getting married. And experts predict that this year’s festival looks set to spell a lull in sales amid a lack of new major launches.

This time last year, NTUC Choice Homes defied superstition with the successful launch of its 590-unit Trevista in Toa Payoh.

But it is unlikely there will be any similar major launches to buoy sales during this year’s festival, experts said.

City Developments’ 642-unit Pasir Ris project is planned for release in the current quarter, but no firm date has been given. No major launches were staged over the weekend.

Mr Peter Ow, managing director (residential services) at Knight Frank, said: ‘This year’s Hungry Ghost month will be quieter because whatever needs to be launched has already been pushed out.’

There were a few new launches in the run-up to the festival, with many units snapped up.

Yesterday, Far East Organization reported brisk pre-festival interest over the past week in The Greenwich in the Seletar Hills area.

Another 94 units of the 319-unit project were sold following the start of a private preview on Aug 2, when it moved 80 units. It has sold 174 homes in total, with the average price achieved rising to $1,025 per sq ft from $980 psf last Monday.

Nearly half of the units sold have been one-bedroom units of 603 sq ft to 721 sq ft, priced from $657,000 to $850,000.

Far East said it was on course to launch the project early next month.

At the 46-unit Suites@Topaz in Potong Pasir, there are just a few penthouses left after sales started around the middle of last week, said an industry source.

He said there may be some project launches of fewer than 200 units each this month, if developers are able to get all the necessary documents in place.

Meanwhile, the 172-unit Terrene sold its remaining unit last Saturday. And Hong Leong Holdings said it sold 35 units of its 468-unit The Scala over the long weekend, leaving fewer than 15 units left.

Mr Steven Tan, executive director of OrangeTee’s residential division, thinks it is sentiment and a lack of major new launches, rather than superstition, that will underpin the predicted quiet August.

‘Nowadays, people don’t really care about the Hungry Ghost month. It’s all about the sentiment, which is not very strong at the moment,’ he said.

And experts report that sales have generally slowed because developers are holding their prices.

‘If I am pricing a project to sell, I would push it out now. There will be interest. But if I want to hit benchmark pricing, I have to be careful with the timing of the launch,’ said Knight Frank’s Mr Ow.

He pointed out that developers had no need to rush given that they are depleting their land banks.

‘With recent tender prices being so high, there is even more reason for them to hold back their launches to wait for firmer prices,’ Mr Ow said.

Source : Straits Times – 11 Aug 2010


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