Experts see quiet 2014 for HDB resale flats

The recent tightening of rules on permanent residents buying flats here has some experts expecting fewer units to change hands next year.
The recent tightening of rules on permanent residents buying flats here has some experts expecting fewer units to change hands next year.ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

But lower prices, cash premiums expected to entice buyers in second half

Next year is set to be a quiet one for the Housing Board resale market - similar to 2013, which has seen the fewest deals in years, said analysts. But they added that while activity will be slow in the first half, it is expected to pick up in the second half as lower prices and cash premiums entice buyers into the market.

"As prices and COV (cash-over-valuation) continue to moderate, more buyers may buy resale instead of new flats due to the waiting time for new flats," said ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim.

In the first nine months of this year, there were 14,099 resale transactions.

This month, there were only 557 transactions up till Dec 16, according to HDB data collated by Singapore Property Watch.

Analysts expect the total number of deals for the year to come in at under 20,000.

SLP International Property Consultants head of research Nicholas Mak's estimate is 17,200 to 18,500 - "one of the lowest in years", compared with annual resale volumes of over 24,000 to over 37,000 in the past five years.

And he expects even fewer flats to change hands in 2014.

One reason is the tighter rules on permanent residents (PRs) buying flats. Since Aug 27, new PR households must wait three years before they can get a resale flat - previously, there was no waiting time.

According to the HDB, in the first eight months of the year, PR households bought an average of 323 units each month. But since the new rules kicked in, only an average of 176 units per month were sold to PRs in the past few months.

"Based on these preliminary figures from the HDB, the drop in demand from PRs will reduce the (overall) demand for resale flats by about 10 per cent in 2014," estimated Mr Mak.

Others think that activity next year will be similar to this year's.

"Resale volume will remain low, at roughly the current levels," said Century21 chief executive officer Ku Swee Yong.

First-time buyers are finding it easier to get new flats, meaning fewer such buyers are looking at the resale market, he added.

He expects the Government to raise the quota of new flats open to second-timers, which means buyers may turn to this market rather than resale flats.

Chris International director Chris Koh also expects next year's figures to be similar, but with an improvement in the second half.

He thinks transactions will continue to average about 5,000 per quarter in the first half of the year, but will pick up after that as buyers are drawn back into the market by low prices.

Meanwhile, ERA Realty's Mr Lim said the real estate agency is "quietly optimistic that resale HDB volumes will pick up in 2014". Besides the attractiveness of lower prices, buyers may also opt for the resale market as the HDB is slowing down its launch of Build-To-Order flats, he added.

He thus expects resale volumes "to be a shade better than this year" - more than 20,000, but shy of the 25,000 or so seen in 2011 and 2012.

janiceh@sph.com.sg


SLOWDOWN IN RESALE MARKET

  • In the first nine months of this year, there were 14,099 resale transactions. This month, there were 557 transactions up till Dec 16.
  • Analysts expect the total number of deals for the year to come in at under 20,000.
  • This is compared with annual resale volumes of over 24,000 to over 37,000 in the past five years.