Reuters
Monday, Apr 15, 2013

SINGAPORE – Developers in Singapore sold a record number of new homes in March as buyers returned to the market, driven by discounts and incentives and raising fears the government could take further steps to cool the housing market.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said on Monday developers sold 2,793 housing units last month – nearly four times the 712 units sold in February and the highest number since the URA began publishing monthly data.

Including executive condominiums or ECs, a category of homes reserved for Singaporean buyers, sales by developers rose to 3,072 in March from 921 in February.

Colin Tan, head of research at real estate consultancy Suntec Chesterton International, said the surge in home sales raised the possibility of further government intervention, even though the jump was partly due to discounts offered by developers.

Property consultants said the Singapore developers that have been most aggressive in cutting prices to lure buyers include Southeast Asia’s biggest developer Capitaland and the Far East Organisation, whose listed units include Yeo Hiap Seng Ltd and Far East Orchard.

“March’s transaction numbers are a combination of new launches, attractive pricing and discounts and rebates which would lead to short-term robust buying behaviour,” said Mohd Ismail, CEO of PropNex, a firm of property agents.

“Strong sales are not likely in the coming months,” he added. For the month of March, the best-selling projects included those launched by Bayfront Reality, a joint venture between Aspial Corp and Fragrance Group, and Tuan Sing Holdings.

Singapore has been trying to cool its housing market as recent immigration and near-record low interest rates drove a surge in demand.

In January, the government raised stamp duties for foreign buyers of Singapore homes and set new limits on their ability to borrow.

Authorities also introduced an additional stamp duty on locals buying a second property and foreigners with permanent residency status seeking to own their first home in the Southeast Asian city-state.

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