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Residential property sales surge in Singapore, latest figures show

Although often a quite month in the country’s real estate market, February saw 1,196 new private homes sold, more than the 1,480 sold in January and much more than the 481 sold in December.
Overall sales in January and February hit 2,676 units, already well up on the 2,596 sold in the first three months of last year, with March numbers yet to come. ‘As the strong sales momentum in January and February continues into March, new home sales in the first quarter of 2010 could reach 4,000 units,’ said CBRE Research executive director Li Hiaw Ho.
The figures indicate that the country’s property resurgence is more resilient than some had thought. PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail said the figures were impressive considering the Chinese New Year holiday typically marks a quieter month. February is also the shortest month and market cooling measures took effect on the 20th of the month.
The strong performance is ‘testament to the underlying strength of demand for homes by both owner-occupiers and investors’, said Colliers International’s director for research and advisory, Tay Huey Ying.
‘Purchasers appear to be largely unfazed by any short term corrections the market may see due to potential future government measures as they are confident of their ability to ride through it to benefit from price appreciation,’ she added.
Developers launched 1,161 units last month compared with 1,426 in January, according to the latest figures from the Urban Redevelopment Authority. The bulk of last month’s sales were for projects located in prime or suburban districts.
If prices continue to rise unabated then cooling measures may be needed according to Chua Yang Liang, head of research for South east Asis at Jones Lang LaSalle. A capital gains tax seems one of the most likely options. While the seller’s stamp duty introduced last month could reduce new sales by another 5 to 10% its impact is likely to be on speculators in the sub-sales and resale market, added Chua.
‘Property prices are likely to register an increase based on the higher value projects sold in the quarter,’ said CBRE’s  Li. ‘Buyers are likely to continue to lock in their purchases for fear of being priced out of the market if prices continue to climb,’ said Tay.