Singapore property stocks were hammered yesterday amid reports that the republic's real-estate slump had got so bad developers could start off-loading new houses and flats at below cost. State-linked Pidemco Land is expected to soon launch a new 99-year lease-hold landed development called Burgundy Hill, in Toh Tuck, at a loss of at least S$200,000 (about HK$971,779) per house, or more than $30 million for the whole project. It is also said it was working on a special payment arrangement to help buyers, without providing details. 'This is competitive pricing in today's market,' said Yu Lai Boon, associate director of Jones Lang Wootton, which is marketing the Burgundy Hill development. Pressure on developers to sell units to generate cash flow is so great that an increasingly extravagant array of special offers and generous gimmicks are being seen. 'Why hang on to your stock when you don't see any potential for upside,' one property analyst said. The most controversial move has come from City Developments (CDL), which went as far as to offer up to $50,000 in cash to anyone who takes up a unit in its Guilin View condominium project before July. This was originally intended to help potential buyers cope with and circumvent the government's 20 per cent minimum down payment requirement. But, after encountering the Monetary Authority of Singapore's wrath, CDL has had to amend its offer to give buyers a $50,000 discount off the purchase price after a 20 per cent deposit has been paid to stay within the rules. Most developers see outright price cuts as a last resort and instead are dreaming up an array of alternatives. Wing Tai Holdings and First Capital Corp have offered guaranteed rental returns of around 4 to 4.5 per cent on units in some of their new developments. Wing Tai is even offering to buy back flats at their original purchase price in its 99-year leasehold Duchess Crest development if they have fallen in value after two years. It will also pay property taxes and maintenance charges during this period. Most developers are already absorbing stamp duties, agency fees and offering a large number of free fittings. However, Keppel Land has made its houses at Villa Verde appear more attractive by converting their roofs into garden terraces. By doing so, it has increased the amount of marketable space by about 30 per cent, so that the quoted price now appears far more attractive on a square foot basis. You may laugh and think buyers would not be so easily fooled. But Keppel has managed to sell more than 400 units in the past three weekends. Average residential prices have dropped 20 to 30 per cent, caused by a worrying supply glut and the repercussions of the regional economic slowdown. Worse hit have been projects in outlying areas and leasehold ventures, which tend to be built on government land. Developers normally have four years to complete sites bought from the government or risk paying a 5 per cent surcharge tax. This has made developers of these projects reluctant to hang around. There were 17,000 unsold units in the market at the end of last year and the situation is said to have since worsened. 'While we have seen price cuts for some developments, these are usually from the financially weaker developers or from earlier launches that are nearing completions,' another analyst said. 'However, we see many developers are still adverse to outright price cuts.'