Published April 11, 2009

Surprise all round as buyers snap up units at Illuminaire

3 units left after previews began on Thursday


NINETY-SIX per cent of units in the freehold luxury condominium Illuminaire on Devonshire have been sold at an average price of $1,700 per sq ft since previews started on Thursday, developer EL Development said yesterday.

The freehold District 9 condominium consists entirely of one- and two-bedroom apartments

By 5pm yesterday just three units were left in the 72-unit, 19-storey project. They were all on lower floors, said the company's managing director Lim Yew Soon.

The quick sales took many - including Mr Lim - by surprise. 'We are a bit surprised at the results,' he said. 'We were expecting it to be about 50 per cent sold.'

While transaction volumes picked up in the first quarter of the year, most activity has been in the mass market segment.

CB Richard Ellis put the take-up of new homes in Q1 at between 2,000 and 2,200 units - the highest since Q3 2007. But no new high-end project was launched in Q1.

Analysts, as well as Mr Lim, attributed the success of Illuminaire to the small size of the units, which means the absolute amount a buyer had to fork out was not as much as with bigger units.

The project consists entirely of one- and two-bedroom apartments. One-bedroom units, which are 441 sq ft or 463 sq ft, all cost less than $800,000. And all the two-bedroom apartments, which are 635 sq ft or 721 sq ft, sold for under $1.25 million.

Small units are proving popular in the current downturn. In Q1, for example, shoe-box units in city-fringe locations were snapped up. Projects such as Alexis, Nova 88 and The Mercury sold well, at prices ranging between $900 psf and $1,200 psf for unit sizes of 340 sq ft to 750 sq ft. Most of these units were sold at an absolute quantum of less than $600,000.

The quick sales at Illuminaire could be due to investors wanting to own a property in prime District 9 without paying too much upfront, said Nicholas Mak, director of research and consultancy at Knight Frank.

'Traditionally, it has always been hard to find anything in District 9 for less than $1.3 million,' he said. 'With this project, investors had the opportunity. I won't say this points to a recovery in the high-end market.'

Most of the buyers at Illuminaire were Singaporeans or permanent residents, Mr Lim said.

EL Development offered buyers an interest absorption scheme. Illuminaire is expected to receive its temporary occupation permit by Q1 2012 at the latest, Mr Lim said.

The project was marketed by Huttons Asia.