IT was probably a combination of reasonable pricing, good location and the positive stockmarket mood - resulting from the US Federal Reserve's announcement that it is not tapering its quantitative easing (QE) programme just yet - that helped UOL Group and Singapore Land move 160 units at Thomson Three on the first day of sales bookings this week.
This was out of the 200 units they released. The developers plan to release a further 120-150 units this weekend.
Located on Bright Hill Drive, the project comprises 435 apartments and 10 strata semi-detached houses. The average price of the 99-year leasehold development is about $1,350 per square foot.
A fortnight ago, UOL president (property) Liam Wee Sin had said that "without TDSR (total debt servicing ratio), we could easily have priced this project at $1,500 psf on average, or even higher".
On Thursday, the group said that expressions of interest with cheques were submitted by more than 500 potential buyers. Yesterday, Mr Liam said some of these potential buyers were still awaiting in-principle approval of their loans. "So not all were ready to enter into a transaction."
Around 350-400 who got their loans approved turned up for balloting for entry into the showflat from 1pm onwards. The TDSR rules, which took effect in late June, require financial institutions, when granting property loans to individuals, to ensure that the borrower's monthly total debt repayments do not exceed 60 per cent of their gross monthly income.
"We've seen strong buying interest for the bigger apartments - four-bedders and three-bedroom premium units - and we believe this is due to the higher purchasing power of those living in the Thomson vicinity," said Mr Liam.
Ten of the project's 21 four-bedders (1,485-1,862 sq ft) and 48 three-bedroom premium units (1,141-1,582 sq ft) found buyers. The developers released 60 of the 84 three-bedroom premium units yesterday. Two out of the five strata semi-detached houses released were sold. The balance 100 units transacted were one and two-bedders and three-bedroom compact units.
"The project's proximity to the upcoming Upper Thomson MRT Station would probably have been a more compelling reason to buy for those who picked up smaller units, compared to those who purchased bigger units," Mr Liam reckons.
Each of the project's 10 semi-Ds has a strata area of 3,283 sq ft spanning across three levels and a basement (that can accommodate two cars). The houses are priced at $3.2-3.4 million.
Of the apartments sold, absolute prices range from $651,000 for a 495 sq ft one-bedder on the second level to around $2.3 million for a 1,862 sq ft four-bedder on a high floor of the 21-storey project.
Mr Liam said: "We did well because of pent-up demand in this location, where there have not been many launches in recent years. Moreover, Thomson Three's proximity to the upcoming MRT station, Ai Tong School and Thomson Plaza all appealed to buyers. They probably also found our price pegged at a realistic level."
CBRE and Huttons are the marketing agents for Thomson Three.
Joseph Tan, executive director (residential) at CBRE, estimates that about 60 per cent of Thomson Three's buyers live in the vicinity including Thomson, Ang Mo Kio, Yio Chu Kang and Bishan. "Buyers were predominantly Singaporeans and aged 40 onwards."
Post-TDSR, developers have posted a patchy performance for new launches - with pricing, location and supply in the specific micromarket being key factors.
Ong Choon Fah, chief operating officer, SE Asia, at DTZ, notes that "there's quite a lot of landed housing in the Thomson area, people with 'old' money". Some of them could be buying a unit in Thomson Three for their children; conversely, some of their children may have bought in the project to live near their parents. "Some of the older landed housing residents could be looking to right-size to a smaller home," Mrs Ong suggests.
All eyes now are on CapitaLand's Sky Vue condo near Bishan MRT Station, where sales bookings are slated to begin next week. The property giant is expected to price the development more competitively in both psf and absolute quantum terms compared with its earlier project next door, Sky Habitat.
Post-TDSR, developers have posted a patchy performance for new launches - with pricing, location and supply in the specific micromarket being key factors. Wing Tai's Tembusu project, which was released around mid-August, was the first to achieve strong first-day sales of about 200 units. The freehold condo in the Kovan area was priced around $1,500 psf on average.
Earlier this month, Keppel Land moved about 80 units at The Glades condo on the first day. Located next to Tanah Merah MRT Station, the condo is priced around $1,450-1,500 psf on average. On the same day, 35 units were sold at The Skywoods in the Dairy Farm area. It was launched at an average price of $1,250 psf. Both projects are 99-year leasehold.
Says DTZ's Mrs Ong: "People are looking for value. Most are taking a longer- term view. At the end of the day, they want to know: 'What's the compelling reason to buy now?'"