May 31, 2011

Private home buyers holding out for better deals

By Cheryl Lim

FEWER private home hunters are rushing to seal deals as many believe that prices will soften further, said property agents.

The cautious mood started after the general election, they said, with both buyers and sellers uncertain of the new government policies that are in store.

A further chill was sent across the market last Friday when new National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan announced that 3,000 more build-to-order (BTO) flats would be built this year.

Some agents The Straits Times spoke to said nearly 60 per cent of their clients have indicated they are willing to wait for prices to fall, preferring to rent rather than buy a home. Other agents said fewer clients are responding to their updates on new property viewings, adding that the current resale market for private property is 'a little quieter' than before the polls.

The move to build record numbers of BTO flats has left some buyers reconsidering whether they should sell their homes.

GPS Alliance associate marketing director Benjamin Tan said: 'I've had one or two buyers asking for my opinion on whether they should continue to sell or hold back. I told them to continue selling their property and see what offers come along. They can always hold on to it otherwise.'

Other buyers are also taking a wait-and-see approach. ERA marketing director Irene Ng said: 'Some clients say they are keen to sell but not at this stage. They believe they still have the holding power to wait out for a better price.'

Both agents and consultants believe it is unlikely that the increased number of BTO flats will greatly affect the private market. ERA Realty key executive Eugene Lim said: 'Turnout at the showflats is still healthy, although not as good as in the past. But taking into account the last batch of cooling measures, the market seems to be holding its ground.'

New property launches over the weekend continued to attract a significant number of property buyers.

More than 120 units of Wing Tai's Foresque Residences have been sold since the project was launched earlier this month. So far, 306 of the 496 units have been released for sale.

The 24-storey development features five towers, with homes at the 99-year leasehold project on Petir Road priced from $850 per sq ft (psf) to $1,300 psf. The smallest units, 463 sq ft one-bedders, start from $550,000.

Belysa, an executive condominium in Pasir Ris, has moved 158 apartments - nearly half of its 315 units - since it launched last Wednesday. The 99-year leasehold project is priced at an average of $670 psf and comprises three-and four-bedroom apartments.

Another new launch, 10 Shelford, has about 20 units left. Prices at this 69-unit Bukit Timah development start at about $830,000 for a 388 sq ft unit.