The property auction market has registered a sharp drop in the total number of transactions and sales in the first quarter, winding up a total of 17 deals worth S$27.9 million, according to new data released by Colliers International.

The commercial brokerage firm said the significant decline in Q1 sales value can be attributed to dampened sentiment in the residential sector, as a result of the government’s cooling measures.

“The introduction of the cooling measures in January this year — deemed the stiffest the market has ever seen — has led to a 38 percent year-on-year dip in auction sales value, while the lack of high-value transactions contributed to the steep 66 percent quarter-on-quarter fall in sales value,” said Grace Ng, Deputy Managing Director at Colliers.

The figure in the first quarter was the lowest sales value recorded since the Singapore auction market rebounded in Q1 2009, after the global economic crisis. In contrast, there were S$80.6 million worth of properties sold at the auctions in Q4 2010.

Of the 17 properties sold in Q1, six were industrial properties worth S$4.2 million, five were retail properties worth S$7.6 million, five were residential properties worth S$11.1 million and one was a development site worth S$5 million.

There is now a “stalemate” in the private home sales market, said Colliers.

Q1 sale of private residential properties at auctions was very low, compared to the 13 transactions worth S$23.1 million recorded in Q1 2010 and eight transactions worth S$41.6 million in Q4 2010.

Ms. Ng said there were constant offers for private residential properties but the offers were below the sellers’ asking prices.

“Sellers backed by strong holding power chose to remain firm in their stance even though the offered prices are only five to eight percent below the asking,” said Ms. Ng.

“A stalemate between buyers and sellers was observed and this was particularly so in the secondary market.”