Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Homes From Sold-Out Projects Back On Market

Source : The Business Times, August 07 2009

Speculators a minority as they shoot for small flipping gains

Some buyers who managed to lay their hands on units at projects sold out recently are trying to get lucky for the second time - by selling what they snapped up, for a profit.

This brings to mind the government's warning last week - that some element of speculation is back in the property market. Industry watchers say, however, that subsales are common for fully sold projects and speculation still remains mild.

Advertisements for subsales at Optima@Tanah Merah have surfaced in the last few days - with owners seeking prices which are at least 5 per cent more than what they paid.

This comes less than a week after all 297 units at the 99-year-leasehold project were taken up in just three days.

Developer TID sold the units at an average price of about $810 per square foot (psf). It had to conduct two rounds of balloting as home seekers descended upon the showflat in droves.

There are also offers for subsales at 8@Woodleigh. Frasers Centrepoint sold all 330 units at the 99-year-leasehold project over a few weeks in June.

According to industry watchers, sellers in the subsale market need to charge a premium of at least 5 per cent to break even. This would cover stamp duty, legal fees and any agent's commission. To earn more, some may set prices which are up to 10 per cent more than what they paid.

But given the market today, those flipping properties would be glad to come out of the deal with $50,000 to $80,000, said ERA Asia Pacific associate director Eugene Lim.

He pointed out, though, that speculation today is 'not excessive'. Every new project will attract a small number of speculators but most buyers today are ready to keep and lease out the property, he explained.

It is when the project is sold out that these buyers may change their minds, he added. 'While some people buy with a medium-term view, because the project is sold out, it presents an opportunity for them to make a quick gain.'

Savills Residential director Phylicia Ang also believes that most buyers do not plan to 'flip' their properties initially. But she noted that if there is profit to be made, some are willing to hear out the offer and may sell later.

She also suggested that not all advertisements may be placed by owners - some property agents may take the initiative to promote units, test market interest and 'gather more leads'.

Both Mr Lim and Ms Ang highlighted that speculation is nowhere as feverish as it was some two years ago. According to Mr Lim, buyers in the subsale market today are more particular - probably looking out for specific units they could not get during the launch.

Rising optimism in the property market seems to be benefiting older projects as well. Casa Merah - which is near Optima and will receive Temporary Occupation Permit soon - has seen prices at its units rise in the last few months. While caveats lodged for units there in February reflected prices of $631-$665 psf, those in July showed prices of $699-$751 psf.

Meanwhile, new launches continue to do well. The 70-unit Airstream at St Michael's Road, for instance, was fully sold through balloting on Wednesday. Previews for Keppel Land's 56-unit Madison Residences have begun, while previews for Allgreen's Viva in Novena will start this weekend.

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