News: New home sales hit 11-month high in August despite Hungry Ghost Festival

Sep 16, 2020

New home sales in August 2020 saw the fourth consecutive month-on-month increase. Photo: Woodleigh Residences

Despite expectations of slower sales during the Hungry Ghost Festival, new home sales in August increased for the fourth consecutive month since the circuit breaker measures were implemented in April.

Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) data showed that new home sales, excluding executive condominiums (ECs), rose 16.3% month-on-month (m-o-m) to 1,256 units in August from July’s 1,080 units. On an annual basis, private residential sales (excluding ECs) rose 11.8%.

This is the highest sales volume achieved since 1,270 units were sold in September 2019,” said Christine Sun, Head of Research and Consultancy at OrangeTee.

Including ECs, there were 1,307 units sold in August, a 14.4% increase from the 1,256 units sold last month. 

ura-private-home-sales-data-august-2020-orangetee

Sun noted that last month’s new home sales “bucked the trend” considering that market activity tends to be slow during the Hungry Ghost Festival.

“New home sales rose ‘higher and quicker’ than expected after the circuit breaker period, which upended sales in April and May with the showflat closures,” she said.

In fact, last month was the highest August-sales achieved in the past eight years.

“For instance, 325 new homes were sold in August 2008 amid the Global Financial Crisis. After fresh rounds of cooling measures were implemented, 756 units were sold in August 2013 and 617 units in August 2018,” noted Sun.

She added that the volatile equity markets and rising economic uncertainties may have fuelled the hike in sales as “more buyers seek shelter for safe-haven assets”.

Lee Sze Teck, Director of Research at Huttons Asia, also attributed the robust sales to the low interest rate environment.

“Possible reasons for the strong set of numbers could be down to genuine buying demand generated by the low interest rate environment, lack of alternative stable investment asset and the fear of missing out,” he said.

He noted that the low interest rate environment did not only make it favourable for borrowers, but also made “the returns from stable assets like bonds low concurrently”. As such, investors switched their focus on properties.

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Leonard Tay, Head of Research at Knight Frank Singapore, observed that the Hungry Ghost month “did nothing to halt the gaining momentum from “needs-based” purchasers who sold their properties and are now in need of a new home and those getting married”.

He believes that buyers whose jobs are not at risk and have substantial savings may have acquired a new home for fear of missing out, while HDB homeowners, who recently completed their five-year minimum occupation period (MOP), may have “sold their units and used the gains to upgrade to new condominiums”.

Meanwhile, the Rest of Central Region (RCR) and Outside Central Region (OCR) continued to dominate new home sales in August, with 622 units and 506 units transacted, respectively.

New sales in the RCR were bolstered by the newly launched 633-unit Forett at Bukit Timah. One of the first large-scale project to be launched following the lifting of the circuit breaker measures, the freehold development in District 21 emerged as the top-selling project in August with 213 units or 34% of its total units snapped up.

Brisk sales were also seen at earlier launched projects such as The Woodleigh Residences in the RCR and The Garden Residences in the OCR, both of which overtook Jadescape to sit among the top five best-selling projects last month.

Also on the top five best-selling list are Treasure at Tampines and Parc Clematis.

Although buyers’ attention was on the RCR and OCR, the CCR still managed to register its third consecutive month of increase in developer sales. “New launches in the CCR included the boutique project Mooi Residences (July 27), which sold its first three units at a median price of S$2,566 all to Singaporean buyers,” said Tay.

URA Realis data showed that Singaporeans made up the bulk of purchases with 1,047 transactions, or 84.4% of all new non-landed home sales in August. This is the highest number of Singaporean purchases since July 2018, when 1,237 units were sold.

“The number of new non-landed homes bought by Singapore Permanent Residents (PR) similarly rose to a two-year high with 139 transactions while non-PR purchases hit a 7-month high with 54 units last month,” said Sun.

This comes as properties “remain to be a ‘safer bet’ among many Singaporeans, especially investors looking for stable, diversified sources of returns during times of uncertainty”, explained Sun.

Looking ahead, Tay expects more developers to launch their projects in the remaining months of 2020, with new private home sales standing at around 7,000 to 8,000 units by year-end.

“Even though new sales volume in the private residential market has been strong in the few months after the circuit breaker, sales momentum for the rest of 2020 might stabilise in the remaining months of 2020,” he said.

Lee, on the other hand, expects Verdale, Myra and Penrose to be launched for sale this month, which could “push up developer sales in September to a record high”.

“Together with sales of 3,862 units in 1H 2020, developers are expected to sell more than 7,000 units in the first nine months of 2020 and possibly 9,000 units for the whole year,” he said.

“Firming sales volume may also pave the way for price increases in the months ahead,” added Lee.

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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email victorkang@propertyguru.com.sg

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