[url]http://www.straitstimes.com/premium/money/story/brisk-start-property-market-2013-20130108[/url]

[B][SIZE="5"]Brisk start to property market for 2013[/SIZE][/B]

[B]Buyers driven by pent-up demand, prospect of rising prices: Analysts[/B]

Published on Jan 08, 2013

By Melissa Tan


SALES were brisk at showflats for both private projects and executive condominiums (ECs) over the first weekend of the year.

Analysts said this reflected pent-up demand from buyers after a lull in launches late last year, as well as expectations that prices will keep going up.

At Echelon, a 508-unit condo in Alexandra View which was officially launched at the weekend, 390 units had been sold as of Sunday, developer City Developments (CDL) said yesterday.

This means that nearly 200 more units at the 99-year leasehold project were sold after the Dec 28 preview when more than 200 units were snapped up in a single day.

CDL said the units were launched at an early-bird price of $1,700 per sq ft (psf) on average, with increases of 2 per cent to 4 per cent for subsequent releases.

Singaporeans made up 80 per cent of the buyers, with the rest being permanent residents or foreigners from countries including Malaysia, Indonesia and China.

The buyers are likely to be mainly investors aiming to rent out units and those attracted by the project's proximity to Redhill MRT station, said SLP International research head Nicholas Mak.

He said these investors would be prepared to hold their units for three to four years.

Weekend sales were also strong at another condo, Sea- Suites, which is being built in Pasir Panjang by boutique developer Link (THM) Group.

The Straits Times understands that almost all the units have been sold, though the freehold project is fairly small with only 52 apartments.

Not to be outdone, ECs such as CityLife @ Tampines also reported healthy sales figures over the same period.

Mr Jeffrey Hong, chief executive of Global Property Strategic Alliance which is marketing CityLife, told The Straits Times that sales were strong.

More than 90 per cent of the 514 units at CityLife had been sold as of yesterday, since its launch on Dec 29.

Mr Hong said that the other projects that his firm was marketing were also doing well, with each reporting two or three units sold over the first weekend of the year.

These include three ECs - Heron Bay in Hougang, 1 Canberra in Yishun and Watercolours in Pasir Ris - and The Nautical, a 99-year leasehold condo in Sembawang.

"It's surprising. Traditionally, the second weekend of the new year does better but, this year, even in the first weekend, we see sales," Mr Hong noted.

He said that buyers who had been adopting a wait-and-see approach could have decided to move in.

Mr Mak said that the strong home sales over the first weekend of this year reflected "a bit of pent-up demand" from a lower number of launches in November and last month.

He added that demand for Echelon may have been boosted by the fact that there have been no launches in the Redhill area since Ascentia Sky in 2009.

Another factor driving stronger sales is the expectation that home prices will go up as land grows increasingly expensive.

Mr Alan Tan, head of sales and marketing at HSR International Realtors, said buyers were "more savvy nowadays" about checking land prices and would buy if they thought it was a good deal.

"People are no longer looking at the month, even if a project comes out in the Hungry Ghost month," Mr Tan said.

A few more launches are expected soon, such as the 810-unit La Fiesta condo next to Sengkang MRT station which opened for viewing last Saturday. Average prices at La Fiesta are expected to be more than $1,100 psf.

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