Published November 14, 2008

River Valley condo Luma relaunches with prices halved

Units going for $1,450 psf, down from $2,800 psf at launch last year


(SINGAPORE) The big property sale has begun - although, in this case, it could reflect the situation of the developer rather than the state of the market.

Cheaper: Luma's relaunch is believed to be the first among luxury condos as other developers hold back

Prices have been slashed by half at Luma, a 75-unit freehold luxury condominium at River Valley Grove.

Relaunching this weekend, units at Luma are being offered at $1,450 per square foot, down almost 50 per cent from $2,800 psf when it was first launched last year.

About 10 units had been sold, mainly in Dubai and Hong Kong.

SISV-Realink data shows two units on the 25th floor changed hands at $2,837 psf and $2,586 psf in April this year.

These prices were already much lower than those for two units on the 20th and 26th floors, which went for $3,349 psf and $3,291 psf in August last year.

At the time, some speculated that prices could soon reach $4,000 psf.

Luma (which will be completed in 2011) has three units on each floor, ranging from 743 sq feet to 1,173 sq feet. The developer behind the project is the mid-sized Novelty Group, which is also in the department store business. Luma sits on an en-bloc site at St Thomas Walk which Novelty bought in 2006 for $76.5 million, or about $810 psf of potential gross floor area.

The relaunch of Luma is believed to be the first among luxury condominiums as other developers are holding back, given the weak market.

Nicholas Mak, director of research and consultancy at Knight Frank, said more of the smaller developers could be relaunching at lower prices.

'The bigger ones are discreetly offering soft discounts, such as lifestyle vouchers,' he said.

'I think the chief aim is to move units, to increase sales. They've probably done their sums - they expect to do a level of sales to achieve breakeven point, which will lower their borrowings and feel more comfortable,' Mr Mak added.

Banks are probably repricing loans, and some developers that have revolving facilities or variable- rate loans may feel the pinch.

'More smaller developers will be doing this if the economic situation worsens,' said Mr Mak.

The Novelty Group also bought White House Park Apartments in Stevens Road for $22 million from Asia General Holdings. It also has developments in Pasir Panjang, Geylang, Yio Chu Kang and Pasir Ris.