Developers sold an estimated 8,136 new private homes last year, Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) data showed on Monday (Jan 16), an increase of 9.4 per cent from the 7,440 homes sold in 2015 and the highest since 2013 when the Total Debt Servicing Ratio framework was introduced.

"Palatable quantum for both first-time owners and investors have been the key driver for healthy home sales over the past 24 months … Quantum play and quality of projects should remain the key demand driver in 2017," said Mr Desmond Sim, head of CBRE Research in Singapore and South-east Asia.

Multiple cooling measures and loan curbs since 2009 have had the intended effect of bringing housing prices down, with values softening further in the last three months of 2016 to take the longest falling streak on record to 13 consecutive quarters, flash estimates by the URA showed earlier this month. From the recent peak in the third quarter of 2013, prices have fallen 11.2 per cent.

Last year's annual increase came despite a weak showing in December, when sales plunged 57.3 per cent month-on-month to 367 units due to the seasonal year-end lull, the lowest since February's 303 units. Compared to the same period a year ago, last month's figure was 4.4 per cent lower.

The Outside Central Region (OCR), or suburbs, led sales last month with 231 units sold. The Rest of Central Region (RCR), or city fringes, followed with 112 sales and the Core Central Region (CCR), or city centre, registered 24 transactions.

The best-selling development was The Santorini along Tampines Street 86, which offloaded 26 homes at a median price of S$1,047 per sq ft (psf). This was followed by Queens Peak on Dundee Road, which clocked 25 sales at a median price of S$1,652psf.

December's transactions in the executive condominium (EC) segment also fell to a 10-month low, with developers selling 213 units, 15.1 per cent lower than the 251 sales in November but a 71.8 per cent increase from the 124 units in December 2015.

For the entire 2016, an estimated 4,069 ECs were sold, 55.7 per cent higher than the 2,613 ECs sold in 2015.

"The improvement in EC sales for 2016 (versus) 2015 is due to both the effects of pricing cutting by developers from S$800 psf or more to about S$750-S$780 psf, and the benefit of the revision of income ceiling to S$14,000 implemented from August 2015, which increasingly flowed through and is more visible in 2016," said Mr Ong Kah Seng, director of R'ST Research.

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