Wednesday, February 25, 2009

China Moves To Help Housing Market

Source : The Business Times, February 24, 2009

Beijing may scrap curbs on purchases of second homes, official media say

(SHANGHAI) China is considering a package of measures to provide long-term support for its residential housing market, including the scrapping of curbs on purchases of second homes, official media reported yesterday.

Government support: New residential development coming up. Beijing has placed residential housing on its list of 10 major industries, which will receive policy assistance

The China Securities Journal quoted an unnamed, authoritative source as saying that the National Development and Reform Commission, the top economic planning agency, was now reviewing proposals submitted by the construction ministry.

The package would aim to increase demand for owners to improve their homes, cut tax costs for people buying and selling homes, and help low-income people buy homes, the source said.

There are also proposals for the government to buy a small amount of housing stock to help it prevent excessive price fluctuations, and for steps to ensure that home buyers and developers receive ample long-term financing, the newspaper added.

Developers would be allowed to create real estate investment trusts (Reits) as soon as possible to bolster their funding, while rules restricting the amount of institutions' investment in property would be abolished or relaxed.

The newspaper did not say when the package might be introduced.

The Shanghai Securities News quoted Cheng Siwei, an influential former lawmaker, as saying that the government had placed residential housing on its list of 10 major industries, which would receive policy assistance.

But it remains unclear what specific policies will result from this, partly because the authorities are still debating whether a policy package should focus on the property market's current slump or its long-term development, the newspaper added.

Two government sources told Reuters yesterday that the State Council, or cabinet, did not plan to include the property sector in its list of industries to receive formal assistance packages.

Since last year, the government has announced a range of steps to aid the real estate market. In December, it cut business and transaction taxes for real estate sales, and said it would let people buy second homes on the same preferential terms normally reserved for those buying first homes, if floor space per person were lower than the average for the city where the homeowner lived. -- Reuters

Seeing Gold In California Housing Bust

Source : The Business Times, February 24, 2009

(LOS ANGELES) California's tortured real estate market has brought heartbreak and ruin, but some investors, speculators and first-time home buyers are also dreaming big and finding opportunities - a silver lining in the Golden State's epic housing crash.

Seizing opportunities: Investors and real estate speculators snap up foreclosed properties on the cheap to sell during the next boom that they hope is not far off

For many young couples, plummeting prices and near record-low interest rates make it possible to own a home in California for the first time.

Investors and real estate speculators, meanwhile, will be able to snap up foreclosed properties on the cheap to sell during the next boom in California's boom-and-bust real estate cycle, a boom they believe is inevitable and possibly not far off.

'This is the buying opportunity of our lifetime,' said Bruce Norris, who heads an investment group that expects to purchase some 100 homes this year in Southern California's Inland Empire region.

California - which would be the world's eighth largest economy if it were a country - saw a near-doubling in home sales in the fourth quarter, a pace surpassed only by Nevada's 133.7 per cent growth.

But experts warn that it's a dangerous game to play when nobody is really sure how low home prices will go or when they will rebound as the recession lingers, jobs dry up and residents pour out of the state in search of better prospects.

Mr Norris concentrates on the Inland Empire of Southern California, made up mostly of Riverside and San Bernardino counties, one of the fastest-growing areas of the country during the housing boom, driven partly by immigrant families who couldn't afford pricier coastal cities.

It's now one of the hardest-hit. In the past 18 months, the median home price in Riverside and San Bernardino, pummelled by the sub-prime meltdown and now recording some of the highest foreclosure rates in the state, has plummeted 55 per cent.

Norris Investment Group looks for homes built between 1980 and 1990, typically under 2,000 square feet.

Older houses come with too many maintenance 'surprises', Mr Norris says, and larger places can be tough to sell or rent in hard times.

Last month the group paid US$55,000 for a foreclosed home that was worth US$360,000 at the top of the market. Mr Norris expects to spend US$30,000 on repairs and rent it for US$1,200 a month until the market turns around.

The group also hopes to minimise risk by owning the homes free and clear, thus accruing little debt.

'You cannot have this (low) level of pricing be permanent because it costs too much to build a home here,' Mr Norris said. 'That's how you know you're making a logical decision when everything is falling around you. When you can buy a finished product someone will want to live in for US$55,000, that just has to make somebody pretty wealthy someday.'

Experts agree that California home prices will ultimately rebound but caution that real estate investing in this economy - the worst contraction since 1982 - should not be undertaken by amateurs or the faint of heart.

'You have to have a pretty strong feeling about where this is all going,' Stuart Gabriel, director of the Ziman Center for Real Estate at the University of California, Los Angeles, told Reuters. 'This cycle is so different from prior cycles that it's very difficult to extrapolate.'

'Most would argue that California is not going into the sea,' he said. 'On the other hand it's not totally out of the question that this particular period of weakness could extend for a while, and that means multiple years.'

California's roller-coaster real estate cycles can be traced to the 1970s, when home prices tripled, ignited in part by foreign investment and the end of the gold standard following decades of explosive population growth.

Home prices plunged in the early 1980s, turned around and doubled within 10 years, slumped in the mid-1990s and then blasted off again at the end of the decade. The sub-prime meltdown and recession pushed them back off the cliff.

'It's a great time to buy for people who are willing to risk a little more and be optimistic when everybody else is doom and gloom,' said Daren Blomquist, marketing and communications manager for RealtyTrac, an online foreclosure data service. But he warned: 'They will probably have to wait it out, possibly for several years.'

Chris Twoomey and his wife Jennifer illustrate the risk underlying the perceived opportunities. They moved to California from the Midwest in 2004 to pursue acting careers and had just begun to think the dream of home ownership was out of reach when the crash came and they saw their chance.

The couple pounced in January, right after Jennifer, 39, learned she was pregnant with their first child, making an offer on a small, bank-owned home in suburban Los Angeles.

But the day after the Twoomeys' offer was accepted, Chris was called into the cafeteria at his job in a cosmetics company warehouse and laid off.

'Sometimes in our dark moments we sit around and say to ourselves, 'Look, forget the acting, forget everything, this is the time to bail' (from California). We can be doing this someplace else that's still warm but doesn't cost as much,' Chris told Reuters in an interview.

'But we're sticking it out,' he said. 'It's perverse, but something inside of us does want to stay here. It's sort of a belief that because it is Southern California and because it is the kind of place where everybody wants to be, it will come back eventually.' - Reuters

US Existing Home Sales Fall 5.3% In January

Source : The Business Times, February 25, 2009

WASHINGTON - The pace of sales of existing home in the United States fell in January to a 4.49 million-unit annual rate while home prices and inventories dropped, the National Association of Realtors said on Wednesday.

Economists polled by Reuters were expecting home resales to rise to a 4.79 million-unit pace, from the 4.74 million rate initially reported for December, which was unchanged.

The inventory of existing homes for sale fell 2.7 per cent to 3.60 million from the 3.70 million overstock reported in December.

The median national home price declined 14.8 per cent from a year ago to US$170,300 - the lowest since a US$169,400 level seen in March 2003. -- REUTERS

Orchard Rd To Unveil Facelift

Source : The Straits Times, Feb 25, 2009

FINAL touches to the $40 million Orchard Road makeover are expected to be completed this weekend, after a 10-month-long project to rejuvenate Singapore's main shopping strip.

Final touches to the $40 million Orchard Road makeover are expected to be completed this weekend, after a 10-month-long project to rejuvenate Singapore's main shopping strip. --ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Workers were seen on Wednesday scurrying around, erecting flower totems - large pillars decorated with fresh flowers - on the pavement from Forum The Shopping Mall to Liat Towers.

By this weekend, old lamp posts and electrical boxes will be stripped out.

New benches, lamp posts, recycling bins, planter boxes and other improvements are already in place along nearly 2km of Orchard Road, between Tanglin Mall and Concorde Hotel Singapore.

The walkways have been repaved, and one road lane has been sacrificed to create a wider pavement in front of Ion Orchard, Wisma Atria and Ngee Ann City.

The extra space has been given to 25 'urban green rooms', containing benches, planter boxes and large glass decorative screens that light up at night.

This is the first time Orchard Road has been extensively improved, with the aim of elevating it to the level of famous shopping streets like Paris' Champs-Elysees.

But the project had a rocky start. An initial ambitious idea by the Singapore Tourism Board, which paid for the works, to construct a glass canopy running down the stretch was promptly shot down by mall owners, who said it would require too much maintenance.

Read the full report in Thursday's edition of The Straits Times.

Fusing Science, Art And Nature

Source : The Business Times, February 24, 2009


Fusionopolis' towers house scientists and engineers working on new medical solutions and technical innovations

DRIVING past Buona Vista it is hard to miss the futuristic towers that make up the first phase of Fusionopolis. Connected by a podium, the 24-storey Symbiosis and 22-storey Connexis reflect the daylight off their glass facades like gems, while the red circular logo at the top of one-north glows like a beacon in the night.

Research hub: (From above onwards) The Fusionopolis towers, one of the 13 sky gardens spread throughout the two towers, and the retail space. Fusionopolis aims to create an environment that is conducive to research, especially for the infocomm, media, science and engineering industries to incubate and test-bed ideas and products, says JTC. This, in turn, will create jobs and IP rights for Singapore

But these buildings amount to much more than architectural beauty. Officially launched on Oct 17 last year, they have become home to a scientific community of talent working hard on the next technical innovation or medical solution.

As JTC Corporation's assistant chief executive Philip Su explains, Fusionopolis aims to create an environment that is conducive to research, especially for the infocommunications, media, science and engineering industries to incubate and test-bed ideas and products. This, in turn, will create jobs and intellectual property (IP) rights for Singapore.

JTC is the master developer of one-north, the research and development (R&D) centre in the west that includes Fusionopolis, a project that has come a long way since construction began in 2003 amid the Sars outbreak.

Mr Su says JTC believes in the development's long-term potential and went ahead with it even though market confidence was low at the time. The take-up rate since has been overwhelming. 'Now I've got a problem,' he says. 'I don't have enough space.'

Attractive co-location

Costing $560 million, Fusionopolis's 120,000-square-metre phase 1 development already houses various public and private research institutes - co-location that is attractive because it promotes collaboration and the exchange of ideas.

Private tenants include Panasonic Electric Works Asia-Pacific, Seiko Instruments, Thales Technology Centre (S) and Vestas Technology R&D.

A*Star's Science & Engineering Research Council (Serc), the Media Development Authority and Spring Singapore are also there.

And the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will set up its first overseas research centre at Fusionopolis. It will run a five-year programme to study how humans can interact with the digital world as seamlessly as they do with their natural five senses - an example of new frontier research called the human sixth sense programme.

Indeed, Fusionopolis could well re-invent the way research is done, by bringing cross-disciplinary capabilities under one roof to find solutions to global challenges.

Such collaboration is already going on for treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) - a disorder that causes children to be disruptive and makes it hard for them to concentrate and learn.

A*Star's Institute for Infocomm Research, the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School and the Institute of Mental Health are working on non-invasive therapy that helps people concentrate. They have come up with a game that could teach children with ADHD to focus, and perhaps to pay more attention to their teachers.

'Creating this technology requires a multi-disciplinary team - it takes the expertise, experience and creativity of many individuals to identify the problem, develop a solution and the technologies to implement it,' Science and Engineering Research Council chairman Charles Zukoski said last year. 'It is solving problems in this manner that will epitomise the work conducted at Fusionopolis.'

To facilitate interaction, the first phase of Fusionopolis also integrates various live, play and learn elements for the 800 or so scientists, engineers and game developers working there.

Shopping and entertainment

Some reside comfortably in the 50 serviced apartments on the 17th to 19th floors of the Symbiosis tower after work. Managed by Frasers Hospitality, each unit is about 60 sq m.

There are also retail and food and beverage outlets such as Starbucks Coffee and Harry's Bistro and Bar. In line with the Fusionopolis vision, Cold Storage is even test-bedding ideas at the Market Place @ one-north. The supermarket is equipped with digital price tags and trolleys fitted with LCD screens that feature the latest promotions.

Staff looking to take a break from all the heavy research can retreat to one of the 13 sky gardens spread throughout the two towers. Some include ponds and water wells in the landscaping, and one may even screen out telecommunications signals in future for visitors to enjoy undisturbed peace.

Beyond beautifying the environment, the sky gardens also help diffuse heat from the buildings and create energy savings.

Relaxation: The open-air swimming pool at Fitness First, a gymnasium situated on top of the Connexis tower of Fusionopolis

For those who prefer exercise as a way to unwind, there is Fitness First. The gymnasium has an open-air swimming pool and is situated on the top-most floors of the Connexis tower.

There is even a black-box theatre to bring the arts into the scientific community. Nestled between the two towers, the Genexis theatre has more than 500 retractable seats and the space can be easily configured to accommodate conferences, exhibitions and various other events.

With all these features, phase 1 of Fusionopolis can pride itself as the first high-density mixed-use development in one-north. Activity in the area is set to mount once phases 2A and 2B take shape.

The $600 million phase 2A development will be ready in 2012 and will house various laboratories, test-bedding centres and what could be Singapore's largest R&D clean room facility across 103,600 sq m of space.

Phase 2B may be up and running in 2011 and will provide up to 50,000 sq m of space for other agencies and companies working with nearby institutes.

And more developments are set to come. The entire Fusionopolis will be a 30 ha complex comprising six phases when it is fully completed, by which time it will be Singapore's icon for R&D in interactive media, physical sciences, engineering and technology.

房地产税回扣 将以09年应缴税款计算

Source : 《联合早报》February 24, 2009


但税务局也表示,由于当局今年正在为本地所有的房地产(包括私宅在内)进行重新估值,若年值(annual value)改变,当局也会根据新的年值,相应调整回扣额。







4月1日至7月31日 业主将获知回扣额







传中国将房地产业 列入十大振兴方案

Source : 《联合早报》February 24, 2009















Keen To Cash In On Mortgagee Sales?

Source : The Straits Times, Feb 22, 2009

Expect to wait as banks are more likely to restructure loans than force-sell homes

More people are showing a keen interest in monitoring auction sales of properties in order to bag a distressed sale.

The guide price for this Sentosa Cove bungalow, which comes with a swimming pool, is between $12 million and $13 million. It is one of the popular projects up for auction this week. -- PHOTO: DTZ

But the mortgagee sales that many are waiting for have yet to surface in any significant manner, property consultants said.

A mortgagee sale takes place when a bank force-sells a property at an auction after foreclosing on a mortgage. But auctions are also conducted for sales made by owners.

Last year, only $83.67 million worth of properties were sold through auctions - most of them were owners' sales, down from $407.43 million the year before. It marked the lowest point for the auction market in more than a decade.

Things could improve slightly this year. Consultants have said they expect to see a rise in loan defaults and forced or mortgagee sales this year.

Right now, they said the banks are restructuring the loans of potential defaulters, who may be offered interest-free holidays or allowed to stretch the loan period.

DTZ's senior director for investment advisory services and auction, Mr Shaun Poh, said that based on general feedback from banks and past experience, he expects to see more mortgagee sales surface in five to six months' time.

Indeed, the market could see a pickup in mortgagee sales in four to six months' time, said Knight Frank's executive director, Ms Mary Sai.

But contrary to expectations, there may not necessarily be a lot more of these sales because banks are open to working out a deal with their customers, she said.

Banks are unlikely to want to take back too many properties when they may not recoup their losses, consultants said.

Nevertheless, many potential buyers are already getting ready. 'We have been getting five to six requests a day from people asking to be put on our auction mailing list,' said Mr Poh.

For most of last year until October, his firm received just one to two requests a month.

It is the same at Colliers International. 'The demand is very strong. We can get up to 20, 30 people calling us on some days this year, compared with one to two calls a day last year,' said its deputy managing director and auctioneer, Ms Grace Ng.

'They want to be on the mailing list. They are just waiting for the market to bottom out.'

Ms Sai said potential buyers are 'coming in floods', asking to be on her company's list or calling about properties on offer.

'But it is very difficult for us to strike a deal because the buyers are putting in very low offers. They want to go only for a killing,' she said.

Ms Ng said her company has also yet to see fire-sale prices. Most properties on offer are sales by owners, not banks.

Nevertheless, if the owners are putting their properties up for sale in these times, they are obviously serious about selling, consultants said. 'They know the market and are willing to consider reasonable offers reflective of the current market,' said Ms Sai.

While there may not be a lot of mortgagee sales yet, some popular projects have surfaced recently.

For instance, a posh bungalow in 99-year leasehold Sentosa Cove and a swish St Regis Residences apartment in Tanglin Road are among the properties included in DTZ's auction on Thursday.

The guide price for the Sentosa Cove bungalow, which comes with a swimming pool, is between $12 million and $13 million, which works out to $1,449 per sq ft (psf) to $1,570 psf.

While the absolute sum is high, this is lower than the $17 million that another owner of a similar- sized house had asked for last month, and which had failed to attract any buyers.

The 3,757 sq ft unit at the 999-year leasehold St Regis has an indicative price of $2,400 psf, or about $9 million. Some units at this condo had previously sold for more than $3,000 psf.

At Jones Lang LaSalle's auction on Friday, there is an uncompleted condo for sale - a four-bedder at The Regency at Tiong Bahru.

Among the mortgagee sales this week is a one-bedder at uncompleted condo The Clift in McCallum Street at DTZ's auction, and a freehold Regency Park unit in district 9 and a Costa Rhu ground-floor apartment at Knight Frank's Tuesday auction.

Indicative prices are $1,500 psf for the 506 sq ft unit at The Clift and between $1.5 million and $1.6 million for the 1,722 sq ft Costa Rhu unit in Tanjong Rhu. Knight Frank withdrew the latter from its auction last month as there were no takers at $1.55 million.

The indicative price for the 2,260 sq ft Regency Park unit in Nathan Road is $1,000 psf to $1,200 psf, said Ms Sai. It comes with a $9,500-a-month tenancy which will expire in January next year. A bigger 3,175 sq ft unit was sold at $1,036 psf last month.

'Compared with last year, there are more attractively priced properties put up for auction this year,' said Mr Poh.

As he said earlier, there could be more mortgagee sales five to six months down the road.

HK Developer Ups Luxury Home Prices

Source : The Business Times, February 24, 2009

After selling 150 units in 10 days, they plan a 5% raise

(HONG KONG) Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd, Hong Kong's biggest developer by market value, is raising prices for a new luxury residential project by 5 per cent after selling 150 units in 10 days.

'The response has been so good, we are raising the prices gradually.'
- Victor Lui, executive director of Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency

'The response has been so good, we are raising the prices gradually,' Victor Lui, executive director of Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency, said in a phone interview yesterday.

The builder, which released 200 apartments at its Kowloon project in the first launch, sold the 150 units for HK$14,000 to HK$20,000 a square foot, generating HK$3.5 billion (S$689.2 million) revenue, Mr Lui said. It's now selling three-bedroom units at the project, called The Cullinan, for HK$14,700 to HK$21,000 a square foot, based on Bloomberg calculations using his figures.

The sale may indicate investment in Hong Kong's luxury homes is picking up, Centaline Property Agency Ltd, one of the city's biggest real-estate agencies, said. Prices of luxury homes, defined as those worth at least HK$10 million, fell 19.2 per cent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, CB Richard Ellis Group Inc said last week.

'There's a bunch of cash-rich people out there who prefer holding real assets such as property, gold as they become more wary of other financial investments,' said Wong Leung-sing, an associate director at Centaline. 'Under the current environment, The Cullinan sale has exceeded expectations and it'd be a harbinger of an increasingly active investment luxury market.'

Sun Hung Kai's shares rose as much as 4.2 per cent on the news, the most since Feb 9. They traded 0.8 per cent higher at HK$60.65 at 3.05pm Hong Kong time, while the Hang Seng Property Index, which tracks the shares of six developers, advanced 2.7 per cent.

The number of units sold and the revenue generated were earlier reported by the South China Morning Post.

Prices fetched at The Cullinan may entice Hang Lung Properties Ltd, Hong Kong's fourth-biggest developer by value, to sell units at its nearby Harbourside project, analyst Manfred Ho said. Shares of Hang Lung rose as much as 6.9 per cent yesterday, snapping a nine-day losing streak. They traded 4.7 per cent higher at HK$14.30.

Hang Lung has 'quite a big number of unsold units at The Harbourside, so if The Cullinan is selling well, definitely they will be one of the direct beneficiaries', said Mr Ho, a Hong Kong-based analyst at BOC International Group.

Hang Lung has about 2,000 homes unsold at its Harbourside and Long Beach developments in Hong Kong, as it held back apartment sales last year after prices fell as much as 25 per cent from last year's peak.

Sun Hung Kai may start selling the second batch of units next week, Mr Lui said, adding that the developer will decide on the number after wrapping up the first launch. Buyers in the first launch included investors from China, he said.

Sun Hung Kai is also in the final stages of negotiating the sale of four penthouse units, Mr Lui said. One of them, a 4,000 square-foot duplex, is priced at HK$50,000 a square foot while the other three smaller ones at more than HK$30,000, he said.

Standing at 270 metres, The Cullinan will be Hong Kong's tallest residential project and includes 825 units.

Still, some analysts said prices for The Cullinan are not enough to lift the entire Hong Kong property market, which is weighed down by a recession and rising unemployment.

'Hong Kong's economy is really dependent on the financial sector, which is volatile, and trade, where we don't see any sign of improvement,' Cusson Leung, an analyst at Credit Suisse Group AG, said yesterday.

Hong Kong's economy slid into a recession in the third quarter, its first since 2003, as the global slowdown hurt domestic spending and demand for exports.

Unemployment rose to 4.6 per cent in the three months ended Jan 31, the highest rate since September 2006, the government said on Feb 17.

Home prices on the Peak, Hong Kong's most-expensive residential area, slumped 30.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008 from a year earlier, the steepest decline since the Asian financial crisis in 1998, CB Richard Ellis said last week. The average price was HK$16,678 a square foot, it said.

Hong Kong's record price for a luxury home was for a house in Sun Hung Kai's Severn 8 project on the Peak that sold in the first half of last year for almost HK$56,000 a square foot. -- Bloomberg

Developers' Home Sales Top 1,000 Units In Feb

Source : The Business Times, February 24, 2009

GuocoLand sells some 160 units at The Quartz after last week's price cut

Developers have achieved an 18-month high in private homes sold in a month, with the 1,000-unit mark having already been breached so far in February.

Snapped up: A showflat at The Quartz condominium developed by GuocoLand. About 98 per cent of buyers of the units are Singaporeans, 80 per cent of whom live in the vicinity, mainly with HDB addresses

Most of the developers who are prepared to pare their price expectations to more affordable levels continue to be rewarded. A near 10 per cent price chop was all it took for GuocoLand to sell off almost 90 per cent of the 182 units at The Quartz condo in Buangkok relaunched last week.

The Singapore-listed property arm of Malaysian tycoon Quek Leng Chan has found buyers for about 160 units since last Tuesday's price cut. This means the 625-unit project is now left with only around 20 units, compared with 182 units prior to the relaunch.

GuocoLand trimmed the 99-year-leasehold project's average price to $595 per square foot (psf), compared with $650 psf during the height of the market in 2007.

Besides the more competitive pricing, market watchers attributed the successful outcome to the fact that The Quartz will be ready for occupation soon. Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) for the condo is expected in a couple of months.

The bulk of buyers are believed to have bought for their own occupation. About 98 per cent of buyers are Singaporeans, 80 per cent of whom live in the vicinity, mainly with HDB addresses, a GuocoLand spokeswoman said.

'They like the design, layout and location of the development, which is near Buangkok MRT Station and also accessible by Kallang-Paya Lebar Expressway,' she added.

The bulk of the 182 units were three-bedroom apartments. On average, a typical three-bedder of slightly under 1,100 sq ft costs around $650,000, BT understands.

Over at Jurong Lake District, Frasers Centrepoint found buyers for another 35 units for its Caspian condo over the weekend, raising total sales in the 99-year-leasehold project to 515 units.

The overall average price achieved is just over $600 psf, reflecting the sale of better-facing units in the past week. About 32 per cent of Caspian's buyers have opted for an interest absorption scheme; they will pay 3 per cent more in exchange for not having to foot beyond the 20 per cent initial payment until the project receives TOP. On average, three-bedroom units at Caspian cost $700,000 to $750,000.

At River Valley Road, Fortune Development found buyers for another six units at RV Suites over the weekend. Half the 96 units in the freehold project have been sold. The project comprises mostly units of 500-550 sq ft, and the average price is about $1,300 psf. East Coast Properties sold another four units over the weekend for its D'Chateau @ Shelford, which is priced at $1,000-$1,100 psf on average.

Market watchers note that over at Livia in Pasir Ris, some of the 30 units released at $620 psf on average on Valentine's Day weekend are still available. Units are relatively large (a typical three-bedder is about 1,259 sq ft), resulting in a bigger unit price quantum of at least $750,000 for a three-bedroom unit. Potential buyers may also be waiting for new projects to be launched in the area before deciding on their purchase.

Seasoned property consultants say that for mass-market projects to move today, they should be priced at around $600 psf at most, and the unit price should not exceed $700,000, in order for them to be affordable to HDB upgraders.