A roaring start for condo launches
Contrary to the industry-wide understanding that buyers do not hunt for homes during the Chinese New Year, condominium launches over the past weekend were bustling with activity.
(New condo sales had a fantastic start to the Year of the Dragon. Image courtesy of Thinkstock.)
Watertown in Punggol Central, for one, managed to sell 224 units.
This was contrary to the ‘seasonal effect’ that usually plagues the holidays—the property sector commonly experiences sluggish sales during the December school holidays, Hungry Ghost Festival month and Chinese New Year period.
In 2010 for instance, the average number of new private homes sold each month was 1,358. In contrast, 1,202 homes were sold in the Lunar New Year month of February, 1,259 units found owners in the Hungry Ghost Festival month of August, and 1,332 sales were closed in December.
However, industry watchers are noticing a new trend over recent years. It seems local homebuyers have a growing willingness to purchase property all year round; not to mention the increasing percentage of foreign buyers who might be less superstitious.
On the other hand, despite traditionally lower demand during this festive period, developers still took their chances and pushed out their launches this past weekend in anticipation of a sales slump next year.
Notable among the launches was the whopping 992-unit mixed-development project by Far East Organization, Frasers Centrepoint and Sekisui House. The joint venture project moved more than half of its offering (550 units) since last week’s preview. Prices were between $980 and $1,500 per sq ft (psf).
Separately, Far East Organization also released 15 other showflats, including The Hillier in Upper Bukit Timah. It reported seeing some 4,900 visitors to that development. Last year, it also launched the 748-unit euHabitat in Jalan Eunos during the Hungry Ghost Festival.
Far East chief operating officer of property sales Chia Boon Kuah told The Straits Times that changing lifestyles and interests, as well as smaller family units, meant that a growing number of buyers have more free time during the Chinese New Year holidays to hunt for homes.
He said, “One of the activities that occupy their time would be to get up to speed on the latest property launches by visiting show galleries that are open during this period. Moreover, inbound tourist numbers have also been optimistic. This makes it a good opportunity for us to showcase our residential products to the regional community and to better serve this market.”
To ramp up festive sales, the firm even threw in an additional 1% discount on the eve and first three days of the Lunar New Year at almost all its projects. The only exception was Watertown, which was subject to conditions. As a result, it closed 21 units in its other projects like The Hillier, The Greenwich, The Sound, Woodhaven and The Shore Residences.
Other developers also opened on at least one of the two Chinese New Year public holidays.
Industry watchers told The Straits Times that developers are less particular about when their projects are launched, preferring instead to rely on agents to provide feedback on market sentiment.
Said OrangeTee research and consultancy head Tan Kok Keong, “It's also project-dependent, whether a project does well or not during a traditionally slower period. If your project is not well located, it might not do as well.”
Savills Singapore research and consultancy director Alan Cheong added that the past two years have also seen new home sales retain momentum due to strong genuine demand.