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Published June 13, 2006

Prime home resales hit 10-year high in Q1
Sector gets boost from spillover demand for new projects; en bloc caveats also cited


(SINGAPORE) Transactions in the secondary market for prime district apartments and condos hit a 10-year high in the first quarter of this year, according to latest research by DTZ Debenham Tie Leung.

The property consultancy's analysis of caveats captured by the URA Realis system shows that there were 759 sales of such units in Q1, up 13 per cent from the preceding quarter.

The firm attributes the surge to continued interest in some relatively new completed projects as well as significant price increases among selected high-end residential developments which also encouraged resales in prestigious projects like Ardmore Park.

DTZ highlighted two recent resales of high-floor units at Ardmore Park in March and April at $2,073 per square foot and $2,028 psf, respectively.

Another factor that contributed to the surge in caveats lodged for secondary market deals of prime district apartments lately has been the current wave of collective sales.

The quarter saw 58 caveats registered for Eng Lok Mansion at Napier Road, which is being sold to Hasetrale Holdings for a record unit land price of $1,218 psf per plot ratio.

There is some inconsistency in how caveats involving collective sales are lodged.

In some cases, all the units involved in the en bloc deal are captured as a single caveat while in others, individual caveats are lodged for all the apartments in the estate in the collective sale.

As a result, DTZ could not provide an accurate gauge of the number of resale deals in prime districts involving collective sales.

While secondary market deals involving apartments and condos in districts 9, 10 and 11 surged in Q1, it was a different story in the primary or developer sale market, which registered a 51 per cent quarter-on-quarter decrease, from 628 units in Q4 last year to 307 units in the first three months of this year.

This was not surprising, given that there were few new launches in prime districts in Q1.

Looking ahead, however, DTZ expects sales of prime district apartments and condos in both the primary and secondary markets to strengthen as more high-quality projects are released following the recent launch of St Regis Residences, which has set a new price benchmark.

'Notwithstanding competition from lifestyle-driven projects such as two condominiums at Sentosa Cove that may be launched in the second half of 2006 - one from City Developments and TID, and the other from Ho Bee - the interest for prime district projects is likely to remain keen, as investors continue to expect a strong recovery in high-end residential prices,' DTZ said.

Collective sales will also continue to support the prime residential resale market, it added.

In the landed residential segment, DTZ's analysis of caveats showed the total number of landed homes changing hands in the prime districts in both primary and secondary markets fell 10.3 per cent quarter-on-quarter, from 155 in Q4 last year to 139 in Q1.

Nonetheless, the Q1 figure was the fifth highest quarterly figure over the decade, DTZ notes.

While there were generally few foreign buyers of landed homes in the prime districts, the number has seen an upturn since Q2 last year. It hit 19 deals each in both Q4 last year and Q1 this year, to reach the highest level in a decade.

The bulk (or 54) of the prime district landed homes transacted in January to March this year were detached houses.

DTZ notes that interest for quality landed homes in these locations continues to be driven by the scarcity of these homes including Good Class Bungalows in the island's prime districts, coupled with expected price increases in tandem with the property market recovery.