Published April 4, 2007

Business is brisk at residential projects

Prices expected to firm as upmarket condos and suburban launches report good sales


RESIDENTIAL properties continue to sell and prices are expected to keep going up.

Flat with a great view: CDL's development on the former Kim Lin Mansion site, designed by architect Carlos Ott, will have 360 degree views

CapitaLand and Sun Hung Kai Properties have sold more than half of the 175 units at The Orchard Residences at an average price at $3,213 per sq ft - a new high-end benchmark.

This will help lift the official property price index for the first quarter. Already, flash estimates reveal it rose 4.6 per cent.

The index, which rose 3.8 per cent in Q4 2006, is widely expected to climb as much as 5 per cent for Q1 2007.

The Orchard Residences units were sold on an invitation-only basis. A spokesman for CapitaLand said that half of the buyers are foreigners, mostly from Indonesia, Japan, India and Hong Kong.

Some of the remaining 77 units will be sold by invitation only, but a public launch is expected in May.

Keppel Land has also done brisk business at its 1,129-unit Reflections at Keppel Bay. About 130 units were sold yesterday - and this was only to Keppel directors, staff and business associates at a private preview.

A Keppel Land spokesman said the average price so far is $1,900-$1,950 psf.

Private previews are expected through the week, with a public launch set for as early as end of the week. Only 500 units will be launched in the first phase.

The Solitaire, a 59-unit project at Balmoral Park by City Developments Ltd (CDL), is fully sold - after it was soft-launched just a week week ago. CDL says the average price achieved is $2,000 psf, with one penthouse going for $7.4 million.

Foreigners made up about 40 per cent of buyers.

CDL will launch a condo on the former Kim Lin Mansion site next and has roped in designer architect Carlos Ott to give it global appeal. For starters, the development will have 360 degree views because, 'a good view is important, anywhere in the world'.

Two of the three blocks will also have units that occupy an entire floor, with lifts opening out into each unit exclusively. 'You may never meet your neighbours,' said the CDL spokesman.

Hearteningly, suburban launches have also been selling well.

Sim Lian Group's 338-unit Carabelle off West Coast Road, launched last week, is almost 50 per cent sold. Sim Lian executive director Diana Kuik said the average price so far is $638 psf.

She reckons at least 25 per cent of buyers so far are public housing upgraders and the rest are mostly local buyers with private residential address.

Although Ms Kuik could not say who these buyers are, Knight Frank director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak reckons some could be buying for 'capital gains' and to 'lock in' prices. 'It's not so much panic buying as it is kiasu buying,' he said.

Mr Mak also believes that those seeking replacement units for homes sold through collective sales make up a significant number of buyers.

He estimates that they accounted for 14 per cent of all buyers in 2006.

Interest in new launches has been strong, with queues outside showflats at Reflections and CapitaLand's Seafront on Meyer. This surprises Mr Mak. 'There is no need to queue. Nowadays, there are buyers with more influence and clout who will beat you to it anyway,' he said.