New private home sales sink to near one-year low; 2023 set to see lowest sales since 2008

Visitors at the launch of J’den, a 99-year leasehold mixed-use development on the site of the former JCube mall, on Nov 11. ST PHOTO: AZMI ATHNI

SINGAPORE – The absence of major new private residential launches for a second straight month sent new home sales sinking to a near one-year low of 203 units in October.

This is the lowest since December 2022 when only 170 units were sold, according to data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) released on Wednesday.

But November’s new home sales will likely rebound with the successful launches of two suburban condominiums – J’den in Jurong East and Hillock Green in Lentor Central – this past weekend.

Even so, 2023 looks set to see the lowest yearly new home sales since the 4,264 units sold in 2008, as sentiment deteriorates with higher interest rates, and amid softer economic prospects and more cooling measures, said Ms Tricia Song, CBRE head of research for Singapore and South-east Asia.

“This is evidenced by the slower take-up rate despite abundant new launches that came through from July to August 2023,” she said.

So far in 2023, developers have launched 19 private non-landed residential projects with a total of 6,815 units, excluding executive condominiums (ECs), for sale. In 2022, they launched 15 new private residential projects with 4,528 units for sale, Ms Song said.

“We believe pent-up demand has been mostly absorbed. Home buyers have become more price-sensitive and the slower take-up at new launches could reflect resistance to current high prices.”

But she noted that J’den’s robust performance shows “there is still ample liquidity for attractive launches at realistic price points”.

Although sentiment has been tentative in recent months, turnout at recent previews was healthy, with J’den and Hillock Green collectively selling more than 450 units at their launch, said PropNex Realty head of research and content Wong Siew Ying.

J’den moved about 88 per cent of its 368 units at an average price of $2,451 per sq ft (psf), while Hillock Green sold more than 27 per cent of its 474 units at an average price of $2,108 psf – an encouraging performance in Lentor, which has ample upcoming housing supply, Ms Wong noted.

But Ms Song said new home sales are expected to remain subdued in the fourth quarter in view of the December holiday season, and some developers may delay launches until 2024 in the hope of interest rates stabilising.

Ms Wong also expects developers’ sales in 2023 to come up short of 2022’s 7,099 units sold, but she believes some buyers may be saving their bullets for an estimated 20 new launches to be rolled out in the first half of 2024.

Mr Nicholas Mak, chief research officer of property search portal, said: “This year started with great hopes that primary market sales could exceed that of 2022 due to the large number of residential projects slated to be launched.

“However, the private housing market in 2023 could end not with a bang but a whimper, as property cooling measures and heightened economic and geopolitical uncertainties take their toll.”

Year on year, new private home sales excluding ECs shrank 35.3 per cent to 314 units, compared with October 2022. Including ECs, October’s sales fell 33 per cent to 224 units from 335 in September, and plunged 72.4 per cent from 812 a year ago, according to URA data.

Sales dropped for a third straight month as developers held back launches since the Hungry Ghost month. Excluding ECs, the number of units launched in October fell 20.6 per cent to 54, from 68 in September, and sank 61.4 per cent from 140 units in October 2022.

With no new launches, existing projects Lentor Hills Residences, The Reserve Residences, North Gaia, Grand Dunman and Lentor Modern were among the top sellers in October.

The city fringe segment led sales in October, with developers selling 82 new units, up from 71 units in September, with The Reserve Residences moving 23 units at a median price of $2,361 psf and Grand Dunman selling 15 units at a median price of $2,452 psf, PropNex said. Adding to the sales were Pinetree Hill, The Landmark and Liv @ MB.

Next up were the suburbs, which saw 76 new units sold in October, up 8.6 per cent from September, with top performer Lentor Hills Residences selling 24 units at a median price of $2,116 psf and Lentor Modern moving 13 units at a median price of $2,075 psf, PropNex said.

In contrast, new home sales in the prime district sank 40.8 per cent to 45 units in October from September – the lowest monthly tally in more than three years since 41 units changed hands in May 2020.

This is due to a drop in unsold stock and few new launches in the prime district, after additional buyer’s stamp duty rates for foreigners were hiked to 60 per cent in April.

Watten House in Bukit Timah, which is expected to launch later in November, will be a litmus test for demand in the luxury homes segment, analysts say. In October, the top seller in the prime district was Klimt Cairnhill, which sold 11 units at a median price of $3,509 psf.

Mr Justin Quek, OrangeTee & Tie’s deputy chief executive, noted that for the fourth straight month, there were no new non-landed homes that sold above $10 million.

Citing URA Realis data, he said 11 were sold for at least $5 million in October, with the priciest unit – a 2,788 sq ft leasehold condo at One Pearl Bank – transacting at $7.1 million, or $2,547 psf.

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