Mar 25, 2011

Home price updates 'could affect market'

But proposed changes would give buyers better perspective: Analysts

By Cheryl Lim

PROPERTY insiders are warning that proposals to give buyers the latest prices of new home sales more quickly could cause exaggerated price rises and falls.

But with that caveat, they are broadly in favour of the proposals unveiled by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) last week.

The moves include requiring developers to release the price list of a new project two days before it is launched.

Developers would also have to give weekly updates on the URA website of the prices of new homes that have been sold. Currently, such prices are updated once a month.

Property insiders caution that the prompt release of such information could heat up prices in a fast-rising market.

'In that kind of a market where prices are high, seeing those prices climbing might prompt people to buy in case they get priced out,' said Knight Frank's head of consultancy and research, Mr Png Poh Soon.

Jones Lang LaSalle's head of research, Dr Chua Yang Liang, agreed.

'It works both ways. If the market is feeling negative, it might lead to a further downward spiral of prices as more people hold back on buying property,' he said.

But ultimately, analysts gave the proposed revisions the thumbs-up.

The URA is seeking public feedback on the proposals until April 18.

The changes, if implemented, would allow buyers to gain a more complete perspective of what they are buying into, which would empower them to make more informed decisions.

Mr Png said: 'Rather than going down to the showflat and feeling pressured by agents, buyers can sit down and gather the information in a cool-headed manner.'

Mr Jason Huang, 24, is a potential home buyer who works in the property management sector. He said the release of such pricing details would help to address many of the questions he would face when considering whether to buy an apartment.

'We can't rely solely on agents to give us all the information, (buyers) also have a responsibility to find out if they are getting a good deal. Making the prices readily available within such a short time makes it easier for us,' he said.

Dennis Wee Group director Chris Koh backed the thinking that the proposed changes would give buyers more confidence in marketing agents, especially since withholding pricing details can sometimes result in accusations of mis-selling.

'(Our agency) once received a complaint after a buyer found out the neighbouring unit was sold for less. He was upset because he thought he could have obtained a better deal and we had to explain that factors like a better view and layout affected the price,' said Mr Koh.

'Confidentiality prevents us from disclosing the full list of prices but the situation could have been avoided if there were figures to show right from the start.'

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