EC developer was told not to sell units: URA

Published on Dec 31, 2012

By Cheryl Ong

PROPERTY agents involved in the launch of executive condominium (EC) Forestville were told by the project's developer over the weekend to return cheques people had given them to book units in the development.

The move came after developer Hao Yuan Investment did not get approval from the authorities to sell units in the project, which was launched on Friday.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) told The Straits Times yesterday that Hao Yuan had not been authorised to sell any of the units in the development located in Woodlands.

"The developer of Forestville was given instructions from Controller of Housing (COH) on Dec28 not to proceed with sales for the EC project," said the URA spokesman. He did not elaborate on the reasons why Hao Yuan was not given approval.

Despite COH's orders, Hao Yuan went ahead with the launch but issued a "no-sale" instruction to agents. Agents were told not to collect any cheques, and prospective buyers were told that no Option-to-Purchase would be granted, said the firm.

Potential buyers could make only "expressions of interest" which Hao Yuan would honour.

But some said that agents operated normally during the launch and continued to collect cheques for bookings made.

Mr Vincent Ong, 39, had placed a cheque for a four-bedroom unit worth $910,000. "The developer's statement that no bookings of units were made contradicts the process I went through on Friday," he said.

On Friday, people had placed an interest in about 150 units in Forestville.

The latest incident comes in the wake of controversy over the high prices of EC units.

On Saturday, a 4,349 sq ft penthouse at CityLife@Tampines was sold for $2.05 million, a record high for an EC unit.

Forestville's 653 units are priced at an average of $710 per sq ft. Its biggest penthouse, with a floor area of 2,756 sq ft, has a price tag of $1.79 million.

It is unusual for developers to proceed with launches without approval to sell, said analysts.

Part of the reason is that developers want to build on the momentum and rising interest in ECs, said Chesterton Suntec International's research head, Mr Colin Tan.

There were about 6,500 EC units in the pipeline as at Sept30 with an additional 3,100 that could potentially go onstream in the first half of next year.

Said Mr Tan: "As a developer, you're not sure if market sentiment will last or not, so you will want to get some kind of commitment before interest is lost."

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