Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Condos Still Hot Property

Source : The Electric New Paper, February 16, 2009

In the face of the economic crunch...

DESPITE the recession, demand for condominiums is still high, going by two recent launches.

At Caspian, next to Lakeside MRT station in Jurong, condo units were selling fast.

Within the first two hours of the public launch yesterday, 38 of the 712 units there were sold.

At 8am, there were already six couples queuing outside the showroom.

When The New Paper on Sunday visited the show flat at 4pm, it was so crowded, it was difficult to move around. Visitors had streamed in from 9.30am.

At another development, Alexis on Alexandra Road, at least half the 293 units were sold during preview sales which started on Thursday. Prices range from $850 per square foot (psf) to $1,100 psf.

Despite the recession, Mr Cheang Kok Kheong, chief operating officer of development and property at Frasers Centrepoint, the developer of Caspian, expects demand for condominiums to increase.

He said: 'Financial difficulties would be most felt by those in the upper echelons of society, who would have investments worldwide. This is why the high-end property market in Singapore has been hit very hard.

'However, many HDB upgraders are less exposed, and would still be interested in buying property now.'

An estimated 2,400 people visited the show flat during the first day of its public launch yesterday, most of them HDB upgraders, and, of the 550 units that have been released, 430 have been sold.

Although the launch of the 99-year-lease condominium came as property prices seemed to be heading south, Mr Cheang said the demand wasn't unexpected.

Based on surveys among residents in Jurong, Frasers Centrepoint had found that there was pent-up demand for condominiums in the area, he explained. 'People would buy a condominium here if the price was right.'

More affordable for HDB upgraders

Mr Cheang said they had catered to that demand by making some units 'more affordable for HDB upgraders'.

During preview sales held last week, all 350 units released were sold, at an average of $580 psf.

Yesterday, some three bedroom units were selling between $700,000 and $800,000, around $620 psf.

Other reasons he cited for the launch's success were the proximity of the condominium to the MRT and the development of the Jurong Lake District.

With Jurong being touted as the second largest commercial space outside of the central business district, with hotels and a new science park, Mr Cheang estimates some 60,000 jobs will be created in the area.

He said: 'People who work in the area may want to establish their homes here as well. When we bought the piece of land, we saw the potential of the Lakeside area. The Chinese and Japanese gardens will be refurbished, and this area is a green lung - an asset that's rare in Singapore.'

Mr Cheang said that although the area was earmarked for several new developments, 80 per cent of it is still an 'attractive green space'.

Mr Yip, 45, an engineer who had visited the showroom with his wife and daughter, said: 'It's an interesting project. From some of the units, you can even see the Jurong lake. I'm an HDB upgrader, and I find the price very reasonable.'

Design director Chin Ser Jong, 45, also liked the design and quality of the units, adding that it was 'rare' for condominiums targeted at HDB upgraders to have bathrooms with marble tiles.

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