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Friday, 14 November 2008

Higher-end HDB mkt cooling?

By Jessica Cheam
THE higher-end of the public housing market is showing its first signs of cooling, with the Housing Board's latest condo-style flats receiving a lacklustre response.

With only one day left to the closing of applications, Natura Loft at Bishan has drawn about 600 applications for 480 flats, its developer told The Straits Times yesterday.

This is in stark contrast to the previous three projects built under HDB's design, build and sell scheme (DBSS), which attracted overwhelming demand.

The first project, Premiere @ Tampines, was a hit, with 6,000 applications for 616 homes; City View @ Boon Keng had 3,500 buyers vying for 714 flats while the third project, Park Central at Ang Mo Kio, drew 2,300 bids for 578 units.

Industry watchers say Natura Loft is a victim of the latest turn in market sentiment, which has seen companies retrenching staff and economies worldwide entering recession.

'Announcements such as DBS Bank laying off 900 jobs has caught everyone off-guard, and local sentiment has turned very bad,' said Mr Colin Tan, head of research and consultancy at Chesterton Suntec International.

Other analysts such as ERA Asia-Pacific's assistant vice-president Eugene Lim said Natura Loft's pricing was 'on the high side'.

'The pricey units were launched at a time when the market is jittery, making a double whammy for the project,' he said

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