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Showflat not ready, but buyers lap up Watertown

The Straits Times - January 19, 2012
By: Esther Teo

NADARAJANHOME buyers, undeterred by recent tough market cooling measures, turned up in strong numbers at the preview of Watertown in Punggol Central yesterday.

Far East Organization said more than 160 units out of the 250 units launched were snapped up, with Singaporeans making up more than 90 per cent of buyers.

The enthusiastic response means that the official launch, originally scheduled for next week, will now be brought forward to tomorrow.

Industry analysts say developers seem eager to push out projects quickly, possibly before more uncertainty emerges.

In the case of Watertown, the developers bought the site for the 992-unit project less than a year ago and have yet to finish the showflat.

But agents had been fielding inquiries on the mixed-use development even before the authorities' approval for the launch had been given, sources say.

They say at least 100 buyers were ready to hand over cheques on Tuesday. But building plan approvals were issued yesterday and only then could agents collect cheques and grant options to purchase last evening.

The $1.6 billion project is being jointly developed by Far East, Frasers Centrepoint and Japanese firm Sekisui House. It will be integrated with a mall of 370,000 sq ft of net lettable shop space and a Shaw Theatres Imax cinema.

Developers had earlier said that prices will start from $1,080 per sq ft (psf), which they said included a discount.

Even so, the development will still set a benchmark in Punggol, trumping Sim Lian Group's A Treasure Trove, priced at $866 psf at its launch last September.

Buyers were unfazed at picking units off the plan as the showflat is not yet up.

Key attractions are the waterfront location and the fact that the project is integrated with Punggol MRT station, experts say. Recent mixed-use launches like Bedok Residences have also seen robust sales and benchmark pricing at a median of $1,359 psf.

SLP International research head Nicholas Mak said that developers are pushing out projects as quickly as possible before more uncertainty hits the market.

'Especially in the Punggol area, developers face increasing competition as the Government has pushed out a lot of land there,' he added.

He said the 11-month turnaround for the site, bought in February last year, was 'fairly quick'.

It typically takes a year or more for integrated projects of this size to be launch-ready, he added.

The Dec 7 cooling measures included an extra stamp duty of 10 per cent on all home buys by foreigners. Some analysts tip price falls of 10 per cent to 20 per cent this year.

Separately, Sekisui House said it will tap its network of retailers to introduce new-to-market brands and concepts from Japan into the upcoming mall.


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