THE number of Central Provident Fund (CPF) loan applications for purchase of private housing fell 10.3 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter, according to the Business Times.
The CPF board said there were 2,915 applications under the Residential Properties Scheme from July to September, compared with 3,249 in the same period last year.
The latest third-quarter figure is a 26 per cent drop from the second quarter.
In the April-June period, there were 3,946 private housing loan applications. The third quarter is traditionally slow as it covers the 'Hungry Ghost' month - the seventh month in the Chinese lunar calendar - when some buyers shy away for fear of bad luck.
This year, the Hungry Ghost period was between August 7 and September 5. A month-by-month breakdown provided by the CPF Board shows there were 931 private housing loan applications in July, 970 in August and 1,014 in September.
Although the pace of buying was slower than that last year, analysts said the market as a whole was firm.
They said benchmarks set at recent land sales - the New Zealand High Commission site, for instance - showed that developers were confident about the near-term outlook.
Hong Leong Holdings tendered a record-breaking S$63.88 million (about HK$336.4 miilion), or $1,401 a square foot, for the high commission site, which was markedly higher than analysts had expected.
One analyst said, however, that demand was now fuelled by foreign buyers. New project launches were invariably attended by estate agents who bought several units on behalf of such clients, he said.
Government figures support this observation. They show foreign buyers snapped up 21 per cent of projects launched in the second quarter - an increase of more than five percentage points over the first quarter.
Talk is that the figure could be even higher if sub-sales are taken into account.
The latest CPF figures show that in the third quarter, 378,795 fund members withdrew $485.6 million for public housing. On a cumulative basis to the end of September, 150,486 members had withdrawn $13.06 billion to buy private property.