Singapore

New home sales hit 11-month high in August

Analysts cite attractively priced launches, pent-up demand among reasons

Hungry Ghosts were no match for hungry homebuyers as new home sales jumped to an 11-month high last month, with developers selling 1,256 non-landed private homes.

This is up 16.3 per cent from the 1,080 private homes sold in July.

Year on year, sales were up 11.8 per cent from 1,123.

Instead of slowing during the typically quiet Hungry Ghost month, new home sales surged for a fourth straight month amid Singapore's worst recession.

Last month's sales marked the best August performance in the past eight years, Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie, noted.

In contrast, only 325 new units were sold in August 2008 amid the global financial crisis and just 756 in August 2013 after a round of cooling measures.

Attractively priced new freehold launches coupled with pent-up demand, following a two-month long circuit breaker when show-flats were shut, spurred sales last month.

Analysts also cited low interest rates and a segment of buyers with still healthy job prospects.

Mr Ong Teck Hui, senior director of research & consultancy at JLL, cited bright spots in the economy where some businesses are stable or even growing. These include technology, biomedical, healthcare, electronics and precision engineering.

"Those in more stable employment would have greater confidence in purchasing a property despite the recession," he said.

MORE NEW UNITS

The 0.3 per cent increase in the Urban Redevelopment Authority's second quarter private residential price index may have fuelled the perception that prices, at worst, may soften slightly. This may have prompted some homebuyers to take the plunge, he added.

More new units were launched ahead of the Hungry Ghost month, which started on Aug 19.

There were 1,582 private homes launched last month, up 82 per cent from 869 units in July, and nearly 56 per cent higher than 1,015 units a year ago.

The figures exclude executive condominium units, which are a public-private housing hybrid.

Last month's take-up was led by projects in the city fringe or the rest of the central region with 622 sales, followed by 506 units sold in the suburbs or outside the central region and 128 in prime districts or the core central region, according to JLL.

Three new launches - Forett at Bukit Timah, Noma and Mooi Residences - made up 19.1 per cent of total sales last month.

With the gradual reopening of the economy and the setting up of fast lanes for essential travel, the number of transactions from foreign buyers rose 74 per cent to 54 last month from 31 in July, PropNex chief executive Ismail Gafoor noted.

Property