Domestic demand drove last month’s new home sales as Singaporeans accounted for 84.7% of the total purchases. Photo: Forett at Bukit Timah

Despite a combination of a gloomy economy, rising unemployment rate and the Hungry Ghost month, new home sales in Singapore hit a 11-month high in August, selling 1,227 units (excluding executive condominiums (ECs)). Home sales rose 13.6% year-on-year and 9.3% month-on-month, reported The Business Times (BT).

The lift in sales surprised many due to the worsening outlook and Hungry Ghost factor, however, the recently-launched Forett at Bukit Timah, which saw 212 units sold (as of 31 August) and was the first private residential launch since the circuit breaker ended, also contributed to the numbers. 

Based on URA Realis data, last month’s new home sales is the highest since the 1,270 units registered in September 2019, said Christine Sun, Head of Research and Consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie.

Including ECs, new home sales stood at 1,276 units in August.

“Backed by pent-up demand, we had anticipated that August’s new home sales could match the 1,080 units sold in July, or perhaps just moderate slightly given that market activity is typically slower during the Hungry Ghost month (which started on 19 August),” said Wong Siew Ying, Head of Research and Content at PropNex, as quoted by BT.

“Hence, the 1,227 caveats posted in August has surprised on the upside.”

Sun noted that the August’s new home sales “defied gravity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Hungry Ghost month, rising unemployment rate and cooling measures”.

Ministry of Manpower (MOM) data showed that overall retrenchments rose from 3,220 in the first quarter to 6,700 in the second quarter.

In fact, Labour Chief Ng Chee Meng expects job losses to increase over the next six to 12 months as the pandemic’s economic impact becomes more widely felt, said the BT report.

Meanwhile, Sun observed that domestic demand drove last month’s new home sales as Singaporeans accounted for 84.7% of the total purchases.

Knight Frank’s Head of Property Network Evan Chung said the buyers’ profile mainly fit that of “needs-based” purchasers, which include those who are in need of a new home following the sale of their old house and those about to get married or whose weddings have been postponed due to the pandemic.

“The second factor driving the sentiment on the ground stems from the fear of missing out,” added Chung as quoted by BT.

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He explained that purchasers believe that the risk of price hikes for Singapore property is greater compared to the risk of price declines, and that they would miss out on an eventual hike in asset values that have historically happened after every recession.

“As such, sales activity quickly picks up upon word of discounts and promotions by developers.”

The BT report revealed that last month’s buyers preferred the more costly homes within the Rest of Central Region (RCR), which accounted for 604 units or 49.2% of total sales.

The Outside Central Region (OCR) made up 40.5% or 497 units, while the Core Central Region (CCR) accounted for the remaining 10.3% or 126 units.

Buyers were also willing to shell out more as shown by last month’s higher median prices on a per sq ft (psf) basis over that of July.

“Apart from Forett At Bukit Timah, which was launched in August, most of the top 10 best-selling projects in August had higher median transacted psf price compared to their respective median launch price,” said Wong.

Whistler Grand moved 51 units last month at a median price of $1,558 psf, an increase of 14.6% from its $1,360 psf launch price in November 2018.

The BT report, however, noted that two of the top 10 projects – The Woodleigh Residences and The Garden Residences – posted declines in their median psf prices at 5.6% and 5.3%, respectively.

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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email