SINGAPORE: New private home sales fell 35 per cent in March from February, according to data released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Tuesday.
Year-on-year, the number of transactions in March fell 82.8 per cent.
More prudent buyers, cautious developers and fewer new launches have led to the lacklustre performance in new private home sales last month, said some property-watchers.
According to the URA, 480 new units -- excluding executive condominiums -- were sold last month.
This is a 35 per cent drop from February's 739 units, after a recovery from January's 572 units.
Christine Li, head of Research & Consultancy at OrangeTee, said: "March is typically a good month to launch projects because there is usually pent-up demand in the market after the festive season. If you look at March 2013, there were five big project launches.
"It didn't happen this time round because developers are a bit more cautious because of the Total Debt Servicing Ratio Framework (TDSR). The biggest hurdle for buyers today is to get the loan quantum they want. And because of that, I think developers try to stagger their launches."
Only two projects were launched last month.
One of them is The Santorini, located at Tampines Avenue 10. It is also the top performer in March, with 76 of its 597 units sold.
Trailing behind are older projects including the 862-unit Eight Riversuites. Launched in July 2012, the project moved 44 units last month.
March 2014 has also seen some rebound in sales volume for older projects, said property analysts.
And this is likely due to a fall in prices.
For instance, the median price for a unit at Eight Riversuites was at about S$1,300 per-square-foot when the project was first launched. It dropped to S$1,109 last month.
As for specific regions, URA figures showed that sales in the suburbs led the way last month, with 299 units sold, followed by 54 units in the Core Central Region and 127 units in the city fringe.
David Poh, managing director of PropNex - David Poh & Associates, said: "You will see more launches in the suburban, that is why you are getting more response, more take-up rate there. Secondly, it is also because of the pricing. You realise that mid-to-high range properties, it is not something the man-on-the-street can afford."
Looking ahead, analysts said they expect buying activity to improve in the next few months, on the back of more new launches and interest seen in some upcoming projects.
Already, there is strong indication of interest for one such project located in Queenstown.
Developers Hong Leong Holdings of the 845-unit Commonwealth Towers said more than 1,500 people visited its show suites on the first-day preview and the opening hours had to be extended by another two hours.
But analysts said with the TDSR in place, buyers are expected to be increasingly price sensitive, and it is important for developers to price their projects optimally in order to achieve strong sales. - CNA/ac/de
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