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    Mar 18, 2014

    Private home sales up in Feb but 2014 outlook still weak

    PRIVATE home sales here were on the rebound last month, but analysts cautioned that this does not indicate that the market is on the upswing.

    A total of 724 private residential units, excluding executive condominiums, were sold last month, representing a 28 per cent increase over January.

    The bulk of the sales took place in the suburban Outside Central Region. In total, 671 private residential units were launched.

    The data was released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority yesterday.

    Property experts MyPaper spoke to attributed the increase in sales volume to the launches of two projects in Sengkang.

    Rivertree Residences sold 218 units at a median price of $1,111 per sq ft, and Riverbank @ Fernvale sold 211 units at $1,033 per sq ft. Sales for these two developments made up 60 per cent of last month's sales volume.

    These projects were popular as they were attractively priced and well designed, said Mr Eugene Lim, key executive officer of ERA Realty.

    Despite the hike in sales last month, the annual transactional volume for new homes this year is still projected to be lower than that of the years before, said Mr Mohamed Ismail Gafoor, chief executive of PropNex Realty.

    This is largely thanks to recent cooling measures, such as the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework and the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty levy, which affects the buyer's investment capacity.

    He expects transaction volumes this year to be at least 30 per cent lower than last year's, with developer sales to fall between 10,000 and 12,000.

    About 15,000 units were sold last year and 22,000 units the year before that.

    Mr Ismail added: "With the current housing policies in place, particularly the TDSR, the housing market has become affordability-based, which depends heavily on project launch prices.

    "This trend is set to continue into the foreseeable future unless policies are tweaked."

    Ms Christine Li, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee, also pointed out that "future new home sales will very much be dependent on how developers want to move sales in a quieter market".

    "Should more developers consider forgoing their margins but still be profitable, the property market could make a comeback sooner than expected," she said.