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Property developers pulling out the stops to boost sales

Some are giving big discounts, while others are going on marketing blitzes -- property developers are pulling out all the stops to boost sales which have been hit by cooling measures.

SINGAPORE: Some are giving big discounts, while others are going on marketing blitzes -- property developers are pulling out all the stops to boost sales which have been hit by cooling measures.

Statistics from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Friday showed a 1.3 per cent decline in prices in the first quarter of this year. It is the largest drop since the second quarter of 2009, when prices fell by 4.7 per cent.

The Interlace condominium was launched in 2009 and some residents have since moved in.

However, the project by CapitaLand still has 183 unsold units as of March 2014.

Over at Whampoa East Road, the Eight Riversuites condominium has 205 unsold units. However, the 862-unit project was one of the top sellers last month, when it sold 44 units.

It was the project's highest sales volume in a single month since June 2013, when the government tightened property loan rules. Under the Total Debt Servicing Ratio framework, home buyers can only loan up to 60 per cent of his or her income.

The units were sold at a median price of about S$1,100 psf -- almost 20 per cent lower compared to when the project was first launched some two years back, when it was sold at S$1,340 psf.

Property watchers Channel NewsAsia spoke to said developers may be under pressure to cut prices in order to boost sales.

Nicholas Mak, executive director at SLP International Property Consultants, said: "If a certain residential project has been launched for quite some time and still has substantial unsold units, and this project is quite near to its completion date, the developers may be under some pressure to increase sales.

"Because if let's say the development is completed and there is still quite a number of unsold units, they (the developers) could also be facing competition from other developments that could be newly-launched in the vicinity."

Jones Lang LaSalle's national director of research and consultancy Ong Teck Hui said: "Since the TDSR was introduced in June 2013, the number of unsold units in launched private residential projects has increased significantly by 19 per cent from 5,243 units in Q2 2013 to 6,247 units in Q1 2014.

"This is reflective of the slower take-up of units at new sales launches, resulting in the build-up of unsold units."

Besides cutting prices, developers are also trying other tactics.

Sales for the Sky Habitat project at Bishan Street 15 picked up in April, after a marketing blitz. In a statement issued on Friday on its first quarter earnings, developer CapitaLand said 106 units were sold in April -- after more than six months of single-digit sales volume, according to URA's figures.

"Another strategy that some developers may embark on is to increase the sales commission for agents," Mr Mak added.

"For example, a one percentage point reduction may not be that attractive to buyers. However, if developers were to raise the commission by one percentage point of the price, that absolute amount will give a lot more incentive to the property agents to work harder in attracting buyers."

The competition is expected to intensify with close to 15,000 units, including executive condominiums, to be completed for the rest of the year. This brings the total number of units to be completed in 2014 to almost 20,000 -- higher than the some 14,400 units in 2013. 

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