Bigger is better for Singapore home buyers in 2020

October 8, 2020
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Jadescape Showflat
Jadescape has the highest number of large units sold from January to August 2020. 
Photo Source: JADESCAPE

HOME owners are trading up, spurred to take that plunge of a bigger financial commitment by the work from home trend which has led to a surge in sales of large condos.

These are defined as more than 1,200 square feet (sq ft) in size. The most popular large units are in the 1,200 - 1,400 sq ft size as these are more affordable compared to even bigger ones.

Christine Sun, OrangeTee & Tie head of research & consultancy who analysed the trend, noted that in July and August alone, 208 units above 1,800 sq ft were sold at a median price of S$3.35 million, a trend that Ms Sun described as "pretty amazing amid the pandemic and economic slowdown".

The number is higher than in the same period of 2018 (187 units) at a median price of S$3.25 million and 201 units in 2019 with a median price of S$3.6 million, she said.

The Avenir and Jadescape saw the highest number of homes above 1,800 sq ft sold, seven and five respectively. The median unit price at The Avenir - located in the core central region - was S$3,218 per sq ft with a median price of S$7.6 million. Jadescape's median unit price was S$1,604 per sq ft with median price of S$3.4 million. Jadescape is in the rest of the central region.

At The Penrose which was launched late last month, five units larger than 1,200 sq ft were sold, based on URA/Realis figures as of Oct 2, 2020, said Wong Siew Ying, PropNex head of research and content. Prices of the five which have four bedrooms range from S$2.2 million to S$2.3 million.

In total there are 54 four-bedroom units at Penrose, ranging from 129 to 130 sq m (1,388.5 - 1,399.3 sq ft). These 4-bedders account for 9.55 per cent of the total 566-unit development.

Overall, in August, 582 condos of over 1,200 sq ft were sold, up 22.5 per cent from July's 475, and 44.4 per cent from August 2019, said Ms Sun.

The number is also a 27-month high (751 units in May 2018) and above the two-year average of 338 units (September 2018-August 2020).

"If we remove the low numbers sold in April-May 2020 during the circuit breaker period, August 2020 sales are still higher than the 22-month average of 359 units," said Ms Sun.

Demand For Large Condo

The increase was across all market segments, and from new projects and resales. New sales in August of 147 touched a three-year plus high; the previous record was 197 units in April 2017.

New projects with the highest number of large units sold from January to August 2020 were Jadescape (108), Treasure at Tampines (98), Parc Clementis (54) and Forett at Bukit Timah (28) and Parc Esta (28).

Resales of 432 was a tad lower than the previous record of 440 units in July 2018.

The 582 sales comprised 127 units in the expensive core central region, 274 in the rest of central region and 181 in the more affordable outside central region.

Rising prices did not deter buyers from upsizing.

In July-August 2020, the median unit price of large units was S$1,319 per sq ft, 3.5 per cent higher than the same period in 2019 and 29.2 per cent higher than the same period five years ago, she noted.

The rising demand for large units may be related to the work-from-home trend where more could be buying bigger homes or needing more space for work and leisure, said Ms Sun.

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As well, the price resilience of properties in Singapore may have driven some to purchase bigger units now for fear that the price increase may put such units out of reach in future.

Private residential property prices for 2020 as a whole may end in positive territory, some analysts say, after prices rose 0.8 per cent quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q) in Q3, nudging the overall price index up 0.1 per cent year-to-date.

"The coronavirus crisis may be changing the property market and consumers' buying behaviour in more ways than anticipated," said Ms Sun.

Many have been working from home since the start of the pandemic and Covid-19 could be causing a permanent shift towards remote-working in some organisations.

A growing number of companies and employees are already adjusting their mindset to adopt more flexible, work-from-home arrangements for the long term, especially for organisations that can save rental costs with the need for a smaller office space, she said.

"The substantial amount of time spent in one's apartment may have led some people to reconsider the function of a home beyond protection, social interaction and emotional bondage among family members," said Ms Sun.

An extra room or study helps create a more conducive workspace, providing clearer space boundaries between work and leisure as the lines could be blurring for some individuals.

The sweet spot for large units remains in the 1,200 - 1,400 sq ft size range. A 1,200 sq ft condo usually has three bedrooms or 3 plus study and some even will squeeze in four bedrooms. From January to August, 1,162 such units were sold.

The trend may signal a need for developers to consider reconfiguring their unit mix for future developments to include more large units or have more fittings or facilities to support the culture of work from home, said Ms Sun.

"For instance, instead of building more communal facilities like pavilions or BBQ pits, they may build more co-sharing spaces or libraries that are equipped with WiFi or 5G network."

They may also build more units with study rooms, carve out dedicated spaces or create convertible areas within the unit to set up a home office space, she said.

Source: SRX

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