Published July 14, 2009

Top-end home sales gently pick up pace

More transactions streaming in at higher price bands as bottom-up recovery starts to take root


(SINGAPORE) High-end residential transactions continue to stream in steadily, in both the primary and secondary markets. Two units were sold recently at Nassim Park Residences by its developer at above $3,000 per square foot (psf), one of them at $3,813 psf.

Buyers returning: Two units were sold recently at Nassim Park Residences at above $3,000 psf, one of them at $3,813 psf

In the sub-sale market, a caveat has surfaced for a 37th floor unit at The Orchard Residences at about $3,550 psf last month.

Caveats have also been lodged for transactions of three units at The Ardmore Park at $2,375-$2,513 psf, and for a sub-sale deal at Marina Bay Residences at $2,200 psf in June.

Also in the sub-sale market, a three-bedroom unit on the 13th floor of Tate Residences at Claymore Road has been sold for $2,400 psf or about $5.25 million.

The seller and buyer were both Indonesians, says Jerry Tan, managing director of JTResi, which brokered the sale. The option was exercised about 10 days back. Two months ago, JTResi had also handled the sale of a 17th-floor unit in the development, facing the same way, at a lower price of $2,150 psf.

The 36-storey freehold project is slated for completion in a few months. 'Prices at Tate Residences have trended up from the lows of $1,850-1,950 psf seen in March-April. Those were some of the scariest months in the property market,' Mr Tan adds.

In the primary market, at the freehold Nassim Park Residences near Botanic Gardens, an option was exercised last week for a second-storey unit at $3,813 psf or $13.25 million. The unit is in the premium block, on an elevated part of the project, with a pool view and with the back facing Nassim Hill.

The 3,477 sq ft unit has four bedrooms and a study. The buyer is Indonesian, said CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) executive director Joseph Tan, whose firm is the joint-marketing agent for Nassim Park Residences.

The project's developer is also said to have issued last weekend an option for the sale of a fourth-level unit at $3,081 psf. The five-storey condo is being developed by UOL Group, Kheng Leong and Orix Corporation.

'Of late, we have been seeing an increase in transactions in the market above $2,000 psf. However, what this covers may be the top 5 per cent of buyers, who remain selective and are project specific. We're seeing an equal mix of foreigners and Singaporeans buying. Current prices - which are about 20-25 per cent off the 2007 peak levels - are pretty attractive,' CBRE's Mr Tan added.

CBRE also brokered the sale of a fifth floor unit at Ho Bee development The Orange Grove last week for $2,200 psf, or $4.7 million, to a Singaporean buyer. According to government data, five units in the project were sold by Ho Bee in May at between $2,255 psf and $2,380 psf. These levels are roughly 20 per cent lower than the $2,800 psf average price for the project early last year.

Orchard Turn Developments has sold 10 units at The Orchard Residences since May at $2,700 psf to $3,300 psf. The buyers comprise a mix of Singaporeans, permanent residents (PRs) and foreigners.

Despite a return of transactions in the higher-price segments, DTZ executive director Margaret Thean notes that 'buyers are more cautious with their offers'.

JTResi's Mr Tan observes that the pick-up in transactions of higher-priced units has led some developers, who had earlier planned to launch or relaunch projects, to hold back. 'They basically don't want to under-price their projects,' he added.

Ho Bee executive director Ong Chong Hua said: 'Sales are beginning to filter to the higher end, but not in a big way yet - because the overall quantums involved are usually quite large. Banks are also more cautious about granting home loans for this segment, whereas for the mass and mid-market projects, banks have relaxed on lending and valuations are no longer an issue.'

Hong Leong Holdings said yesterday that 215 units have been sold at The Gale, a freehold condo in the Upper Changi area, since last Friday. The average price is said to be about $650-660 psf.

At Alexandra Road, Wing Tai sold over 70 units at the 99-year leasehold Ascentia Sky during last weekend's preview. The average price is $1,250 psf.

Over the weekend, MCL Land sold 55 units at The Peak @ Balmeg, a freehold condo at Pasir Panjang, bringing total sales to 100 units. The average price is $1,000 psf.

Interest absorption schemes are available for all three projects at price premiums.

Remarks Mr Ong: 'What we're seeing is a bottom-up recovery, which is more sustainable - unlike the last recovery from 2005 to 2007, which was top down.'