March 29, 2007

Clear price tiers for private home market

By Fiona Chan

THE clear price tiers that have recently emerged in the private home market are here to stay, says Wing Tai Holdings' deputy chairman Edmund Cheng.

As luxury homes in Orchard Road and other prime areas keep hitting new price highs, they will be out of the reach of most Singaporeans.

Instead, wealthy foreigners will make up an increasing proportion of high-end home buyers, predicted Mr Cheng in an interview yesterday.

'As Singapore becomes a global city, it will cater for more high net worth individuals to come in, and so its homes will reach international prices,' he said.

Although Singapore's priciest homes are still a far cry from those in London or New York, Mr Cheng believes they can close much of the gap in the next two years.

But this means that most local home buyers will be priced out of the central districts.

They will then turn to what Mr Cheng calls the 'upper middle class' layer of homes, costing between $1,000 per sq ft (psf) and $1,700 psf.

This is the segment that will do best this year, he said. It will be buoyed by collective sale sellers looking for new homes, the strong economy, and an influx of middle-class expatriates.

And even the mass market - where homes start from $400 psf or $500 psf - will see a good year, said Mr Cheng. He expects home prices in this segment to rise between 5 per cent and 10 per cent.

With all three tiers going strong, Wing Tai is spreading its bets. Over the next few months, it will launch projects in every sector.

First up is Riverine by the Park, a 30-storey freehold condominium along Kallang Riverside Park that will be launched next month.

Mr Cheng would not reveal prices for the project's 96 units, but said the condo falls in the 'upper middle class range'.

In May, Wing Tai expects to launch the 140-unit Helios Residences on the former Phoenix Mansion site in Cairnhill Circle.

Also in the launch pipeline this year are a 99-year entry-level condominium in Tanah Merah, a Bukit Timah condo near Tessarina, and a new project on the Newton Meadows site.