Rise in last quarter's landed home prices not seen to be sustainable

Private houses on landed properties as viewed from Holland Drive on Aug 11, 2016.
Private houses on landed properties as viewed from Holland Drive on Aug 11, 2016.PHOTO: ST FILE

The surprise rebound in prices for landed homes at the end of last year does not spell recovery, with analysts warning that they could face more pressure this year.

Prices rose 0.9 per cent from the third to fourth quarter last year - the first such increase since the third quarter of 2013.

The uptick was a sharp reversal from the 2.7 per cent decline recorded from the second to the third quarter, according to Urban Redevelopment Authority data on Tuesday.

SLP International Property Consultants research head Nicholas Mak said: "The increase could be a statistical blip... I don't think it's sustainable. I don't think it signals a start of a recovery in the landed home segment."

Mr Wong Xian Yang, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee, added: "Landed property prices still remain under pressure, amid weak economic conditions and current cooling measures."

Falling prices - they fell 14.8 per cent from the third quarter of 2013 to the same point last year - have wooed buyers back to landed homes, putting a floor under values in the process.

"As more are prepared to buy at the current price level, this would have the effect of stabilising the (price) index or causing it to inch up," said JLL national director of research and consultancy Ong Teck Hui.

The increased number of transactions - CBRE said caveats lodged rose 16.8 per cent, from 1,144 in 2015 to 1,336 last year - suggests also that sellers were more realistic with the asking price.

Despite the slight increase in the fourth quarter, landed home prices still posted a 4.4 per cent drop for the whole of last year, following falls of 4.1 per cent in 2015 and 5.3 per cent in 2014.

"Rising interest rates may have prompted some buyers to get the deal done before rates go up any higher," said Mr Desmond Sim, head of CBRE Research for Singapore and South-east Asia.

Landed home prices in the October to December period were boosted by the detached house segment, which saw several large deals.

They included a property at 2E Bishopsgate that went for $26.8 million and two others - at 67 Holland Park and 17 White House Park - that both sold for $25.5 million each.

Despite the slight increase in the fourth quarter, landed home prices still posted a 4.4 per cent drop for the whole of last year, following falls of 4.1 per cent in 2015 and 5.3 per cent in 2014.

The landed home market has suffered since the total debt servicing ratio was imposed in June 2013. This limits a borrower's total monthly debt obligations to a maximum of 60 per cent of the individual's monthly gross income.

Market watchers expect landed home prices to either remain flat or fall at a more gradual pace this year.

"At the end of the day, landed homes are still sought-after assets... and there isn't a lot of new supply of such properties," Mr Sim added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 05, 2017, with the headline 'Rise in last quarter's landed home prices not seen to be sustainable'. Print Edition | Subscribe