Developers told to suspend all showflat galleries for a month

Sat, Apr 04, 2020


SHOW galleries for residential projects will have to shut for a month starting April 7 as stricter measures kick in to combat the Covid-19 outbreak, throwing a spanner into the works for developers.

The Business Times understands that Controller of Housing on Friday informed developers that they will have to close all show galleries for a month until May 4 in line with the government's latest directives.

CBRE head of research (South-east Asia) Desmond Sim said that developers with existing showflats could use technology - such as a virtual showflat tour - to continue to showcase their project online to prospective buyers.

In line with the latest measures, Chip Eng Seng will close its showflats for Kopar At Newton from next Tuesday, it confirmed. Last week, it started previews of the project while following the social distancing guidelines advised by the authorities at the time. "We have received a lot of interest," a spokesperson told BT.

Keppel Land also said that its showflat for 19 Nassim will be temporarily closed for a month until May 4 given the tighter measures. It previously held a private preview on the weekend of March 20-22 to "parties who had expressed keen interest in the development", a spokesperson said.

Other projects that were initially looking at a 1H2020 launch include The Landmark, and Forett at Bukit Timah by Qingjian Realty (South Pacific) Group and Perennial Real Estate Holdings. Yen Chong, deputy general manager for Qingjian, said: "Forett at Bukit Timah will be launched when we are assured and confident of the situation. We are committed to protecting the well-being of our visitors."

Before Friday's announcement, some developers had already moved to delay launches.

Co-developers of Cairnhill 16, Tiong Seng and Ocean Sky, which had been looking at conducting a preview in April, had already decided to delay the preview due to Covid-19. The preview - when it is held - will be by appointment, they said.

CBRE's Mr Sim expects some launches initially slated for 2Q to be pushed into 2H2020. This could be due to factors such as tight availability of showflat sites, a shortage of manpower for the construction of sales galleries and to avoid cannibalising the impact of their launch if there is bunching up.

ERA Realty's head of research, Nicholas Mak, added: "Some launches are delayed due to constraints, such as delay in the arrival of showflat interior design materials, which may be imported."

Highlighting that the sales of new private homes this year will be adversely affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, CBRE's Mr Sim said: "At the start of the year, despite the economic sentiment, CBRE still expected 6,000 to 7,000 units to be sold this year. With the outbreak worsening, hitting 6,000 to 7,000 units might be a challenge."

Developers may become more flexible in their pricing expectations, especially those with less holding power or face greater urgency to move units, Mr Sim added.

Where sales are concerned, Mr Mak pointed out there is still liquidity as well as interested buyers in the market. The challenge when it comes to overseas buyers however is how to seal the deal, given the existing travel restrictions, he said.