Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Visitors Throng Nova 88 Showflat

Source : The Straits Times, Jan 6, 2009

PROPERTY hunters put aside the gloomy economic outlook last weekend and turned out in force to check out - and even buy - new flats.

At Nova 88 in Balestier - likely to be the only new official launch so far this year - about 500 visitors thronged the showflat, said developer Roxy Homes.

About 20 per cent of Nova 88's units were sold, with prices ranging from $900 to $990 per sq ft. -- PHOTO: WWW.ROXYPACIFIC.COM.SG

Some 20 per cent of the flats in the 88-unit development were sold at prices ranging from $900 to $990 per sq ft, it said.

Potential buyers also flocked to re-launches, indicating that pockets of the market are still showing signs of life.

The Nova 88 showflat numbers were similar to those pulled in during the firm's launches last year, but like most other developments, sales have slowed, with buyers and sellers sitting on the sidelines looking for clearer market signals.

Roxy Homes launched Nova 88 last Saturday after holding special previews over two weekends last month.

'We don't hold back launches as our properties are in the mid-range segment,' said Mr Teo Hong Lim, chief executive of listed Roxy-Pacific, the developer's parent.

'If we advertise today and there are no visitors to our showflats, then the market is dead. But now, potential buyers are still going to showflats, so that is the positive part.'

When the Asian financial crisis hit in 1997, showflats were empty, he added.

Still, demand has taken a big hit since Lehman Brothers collapsed in September last year.

'In the pre-Lehman collapse days, I would have launched Nova 88 at $1,250 psf,' said Mr Teo. 'Now, our style is to go for a reasonable price because we are serious in selling.'

Nova 88 is on the former Aik Khiam Mansion site and a piece of state land, which together cost just under $350 psf of gross floor area.

'The sales are encouraging,' said a property consultant of the Nova 88 sales.

The consultant, who declined to be named, said developers are holding off launching projects as buyers are worried about their jobs or possible pay cuts and few are in the mood to buy.

Some property hunters also headed for showflats of relaunches and recent launches such as The Ambra, The Lucent, Lucida and Newton Edge.

Most launches will come only after Chinese New Year later this month. The 293-unit Alexis near Queenstown MRT station is one of them.

While developer ECPrime has yet to finalise Alexis' prices, it has already tweaked the product given the weaker market sentiment.

'We adjusted the mix recently such that a large number of the units will be smaller and thus more affordable,' said director Melvin Poh.

At least 80 per cent of Alexis comprises small units, with one to two bedrooms, up from 60 per cent previously, he said.

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