It was like a flashback to the boom days when more than 8,000 people thronged the sales gallery of High Park Residences when it opened to the public on the weekend.
They were not just there to look, either, with around 500 cheques collected from buyers keen to own a unit at the massive condominium project to be launched in two weeks.
Pricing seems to have been a key factor in the weekend rush.
The average price per square foot for the 1,390 units is below $1,000, said CEL Development, which is developing the project in Fernvale Road with Unique Residence, a joint venture between Heeton Homes and Kim Seng Heng Realty.
The 99-year condominium development, which is next to Thanggam LRT Station and a stone's throw from Seletar Mall, is expected to get its temporary occupation permit in August 2020.
Indicative pricing showed that the smallest unit, a studio apartment of 36 sq m, costs $398,000.
The development has a wide range of units - 42.5 per cent will be two-bedroom flats but there will also be three- four-and five-bedders, 10 semi-detached houses, four 254 sq m bungalows and nine commercial units.
Mr Donald Han, the managing director of Chestertons, said that the pricing was bringing buyers back into the quiet market.
"Under $1,000 psf on average is the lure," he said.
"The pricing shows that the developer is responsive to affordability. Some people have said that there are too many residential units in Sengkang, but the response for High Park Residences shows that if the price is competitive, buyers will come.
"This will be a booster to July home sales numbers, after we have seen generally paltry response in the months of May and June."
The last time potential buyers rushed to snap up units at such a pace was in April, when North Park Residences in Yishun and Botanique at Bartley were launched.
Mr Kelvin Fong, senior group district director of PropNex, said: "Units that are under $400,000 are very affordable.
"The average price for a studio unit in the vicinity of High Park Residences costs over $500,000.
"With cooling measures like TDSR (total debt servicing ratio), affordability is the keyword for buying properties today.
"A low entry price could attract more buyers. Majority of those who place cheques with us are more interested in the smaller units."
CEL Development attributed the competitive pricing to economies of scale as the project will be built on two adjacent parcels of land bought separately for a total price of $487.055 million.
When the Government sold the two sites with the tenders for both closing on the same day, it expected a total of about 1,130 residential units to be built across both plots.
But High Park Residences managed to develop 23 per cent more than that, noted Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research and consultancy at SLP International.
That translates to generally smaller units. The size of two-bedroom apartments ranges from 53 to 68 sq m and three-bedders are between 81 and 92 sq m.
Sales data for District 28 show that the smallest unit sold in the past 20 years was a 46 sq m one at Riverbank at Fernvale, so the High Park Residence studios, at 36 sq m, could set a new record for the area.
Developments in the city fringe still offer shoebox units at 35 sq m, said Mr Mak, who liken them to a moderately large hotel room.
"High Park Residences is going to be the last project to be launched in the next 12 months in the north-east region.
"There may be a longer lead time before the next competitor comes in," said Mr Mak.
Although TDSR is causing retail investors to look for small units at High Park Residences, Mr Mak feels that the Government has planned that the site be a residential area for families.
"It is located in a suburban area for families to live in. The surroundings are mostly HDB flats and primary schools. It is an HDB heartland.
"When the Government designated this area for residential, I believe they have in mind for families to live there," said Mr Mak.
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