Some developers will continue to showcase their projects with the help of technology, while others are looking to delay their launches.
With the Covid-19 outbreak getting worse, developers in Singapore were told by the Controller of Housing to close all show galleries for residential projects from 7 April to 4 May, reported The Business Times.
Desmond Sim, Head of Research (South-east Asia) at CBRE, noted that developers with existing showflats can still continue showcasing their project to prospective buyers with the help of technology, such as virtual showflat tour.
In view of the latest measures, Chip Eng Seng revealed that it will close the showflat for its 378-unit project Kopar at Newton from Tuesday (7 April). It commenced previews of the project on 25 March while following the authorities’ social distancing guidelines at the time.
Keppel Land said that it will be temporarily closing its showflat for 19 Nassim for a month until 4 May. It previously conducted private preview for the project on 20 to 22 March to “parties who had expressed keen interest in the development”, shared a spokesperson.
Other projects that were initially eyeing a first half 2020 launch include The Landmark (by MCC Singapore, SSLE Development and ZACD Group), as well as Forett at Bukit Timah by Qingjian Realty (South Pacific) Group and Perennial Real Estate Holdings.
“Forett at Bukit Timah will be launched when we are assured and confident of the situation. We are committed to protecting the well-being of our visitors,” said Yen Chong, Deputy General Manager for Qingjian.
Some developers had already decided to delay their launches even before the Controller of Housing’s announcement.
Tiong Seng and Ocean Sky, the co-developers of Cairnhill 16, had been planning to hold a preview in April but decided to delay it due to Covid-19. Once held, the preview will be by appointment, they said.
Sim expects some launches originally scheduled for the second quarter to be pushed into 2H 2020. This could be attributed to factors like a shortage of manpower for the sales galleries’ construction, tight availability of showflat sites and to avoid cannibalising the impact of their launch should there be a bunching up.
“Some launches are delayed due to constraints, such as delay in the arrival of showflat interior design materials, which may be imported,” added Nicholas Mak, Head of Research at ERA Realty.
Despite the Covid-19 outbreak, resale prices of Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats held flat in the first quarter of 2020.
The resale price index (RPI) stood at 131.5 in Q1, unchanged from the fourth quarter of 2019, showed flash estimates by the Housing and Development Board (HDB).
The RPI for the full quarter – along with more detailed public housing data – is set to be released on 24 April.
Christine Sun, Head of Research and Consultancy at OrangeTee and Tie, said HDB resale flat prices are generally not subject to volatile swings since most people acquire flats for themselves to stay in and not for speculation.
Moreover, the government unveiled a series of policy changes last year that included enhanced housing grants for first-time buyers as well as higher income ceiling for eligible buyers, reported The Straits Times.
However, the Covid-19 outbreak could negate the policy changes’ positive impacts, said Sun.
“There could be limited upside for major price growth this year and prices are likely to continue trending sideways in the coming months,” she added.
Nonetheless, Sun believes that the $48 billion Resilience Budget could be a silver lining.
“The hefty stimulus package unveiled by the Government last week to keep unemployment low and the economy running will certainly help to sustain housing demand and ensure prices of flats remain stable in the coming months.”
Meanwhile, HDB revealed that it will offer around 3,700 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats in Pasir Ris, Choa Chu Kang, Tengah and Tampines in May. It will also offer around 4,100 BTO flats in Bishan, Ang Mo Kio, Tampines, Woodlands and Geylang in August.
“Of these, the flats in Choa Chu Kang (May 2020) and Tampines (August 2020) will have shorter waiting time,” it added.