Singapore new private homes seen as a safe haven asset amid outbreak, looming recession

SINGAPORE – The private residential property market in Singapore appears to still be a safe-haven asset amid the Covid-19 pandemic and a looming global recession.

Posting the second-strongest February sales performance in eight years, developers moved 975 private homes – up 57.3 per cent from the 620 units they sold the month before.

The latest figure is also 114 per cent higher than the 455 units developers sold in Feb 2019. These figures exclude executive condominium (EC) units.

Data released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority on Monday (March 16) show that the number of units launched jumped 56 per cent to 933 in February from 598 the previous month, and up 56.5 per cent to 596 from a year ago.

Two large projects were launched last month – The M, which sold 380 units of the 522-unit condo project, and the 496-unit Parc Canberra EC, which moved 324 units.

“The M, with its attractive pricing and prized location in Bugis overshadowed the virus,” Huttons Asia research director Lee Sze Teck said.

“More than 70 per cent were sold during the launch weekend. The last time such sales figures were achieved for a project in the Core Central Region (CCR) was … in mid-November 2013, when 468 units (71 per cent) of the 660-unit DUO Residences was sold over three days at a launch in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore by M+S, a joint venture between Singapore’s Temasek Holdings and Malaysia’s Khazanah Nasional,” he added.

The executive condominium (EC) segment also shone in February. Parc Canberra sold more than 60 per cent of its units, making it one of the best-selling ECs after Hundred Palms, Mr Lee said.

Ms Christine Sun, Orange Tee & Tie’s head of research & consultancy, attributed the robust sales to more investors diversifying their portfolios to property investments after the recent stock market rout.

The number of purchases by Singaporeans grew strongly last month, she noted.

According to URA Realis data, 812 non-landed homes excluding ECs were bought by Singaporeans last month, up from the 413 units in January and 351 units in December 2019. The number of foreign buyers (permanent residents and non-permanent residents) had similarly increased from 116 in Dec 2019 to 149 in Feb 2020.

“The increasing volatility of the financial markets may continue to propel investors to real estate as properties are widely regarded as safe-haven assets that offer more stable returns.

“The softening of the Sing dollar in recent months may attract foreigners to invest in properties here,” she added.

The Federal Reserve has also slashed interest rate to near zero and restart its quantitative easing program as part of emergency stimulus. These measures intended to spur lending and spending may continue to stimulate housing demand with increased liquidity, Ms Sun added.

Including ECs, which are a public-private housing hybrid, developers found buyers for 1,314 units last month, up 105.3 per cent from the 640 units they sold in January and 187.5 per cent more than the 457 units developers sold in February last year.

The number of units launched jumped 139 per cent to 1,429 from 598 in January, and up 140 per cent from 596 a year ago.

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