HDB resale volume surges 28% as prices dip

HBD flats at Jurong West.
HBD flats at Jurong West. ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

5,286 homes change hands; slower pace of price decline signals a stabilising market

The Housing Board resale market saw a spike in transaction volume last quarter, even as prices dipped, the latest official data showed.

Resale flat volume climbed 27.8 per cent in the three months up to June 30, with 5,286 homes changing hands. This was up significantly from the 4,135 units sold in the first quarter of this year.

Still, prices continued to fall, albeit at a much slower pace than before. The HDB resale price index dipped by 0.4 per cent, gentler than the average decline of 1.4 per cent over the previous four quarters.

The latest data confirms what several analysts have been saying for the past few months: The public housing market is showing signs of stabilising and could be on the mend by as soon as next year.

Mr Nicholas Mak, the research head at SLP International Property Consultants, said the market is "approaching a soft landing", noting that the resale volume this past quarter was the "most robust" since prices started to weaken in late 2013.

TRICKY FOR SELLERS

It's really a buyer's market now. I'm just glad to get the flat off my hands.

HOUSEWIFE JULIE WONG, whose flat in Jurong took seven months to be sold

The slower rate of price decline and increase in resale volume could be a sign that the market is achieving a soft landing to reach the bottom of the price cycle, he said.

ERA Realty's key executive officer Eugene Lim said prices would have bottomed if the trend holds for subsequent quarters.

He added that the HDB's plans to reduce the Build-To-Order (BTO) flat supply could lead to higher demand for resale flats, which will in turn push up prices.

But analysts maintain that prices will remain weak at least for the rest of the year, and any recovery will be slow and gradual.

This is because cooling measures remain in force and buyers continue to be restrained by the mortgage servicing ratio cap.

More home completions next year will also increase the overall flat supply and apply a downward pressure on resale prices, they said.

Said R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng: "This does not point to a solid recovery in resale prices. Buyers remain very selective amid ample choices of flats put up for sale."

PropNex Realty chief executive Mohamed Ismail Gafoor expects prices to continue heading south, with a drop of up to 4 per cent for the whole year.

"However, prices will not plunge as there is a large base of potential buyers," he said, adding that resale volume will continue to go up as the asking prices get lower.

The HDB estate with the most resale transactions in the past quarter was Jurong West, with 423 flats changing hands, according to SRX Property data.

Four-room flats there went for a median resale price of $377,900, said the Housing Board. Tampines and Sengkang had the next most transactions, with 364 and 341 units sold respectively.

Some home owners, however, continue to find it tricky to sell their flats despite the lower prices.

Housewife Julie Wong, who recently sold her Jurong West five-room flat for $460,000, said it took her seven months to find a buyer. "Many people came to view my flat but they were just (window) shopping. I was getting a little anxious," said the 46-year-old.

Madam Wong, who will be moving into a Queenstown BTO flat, added: "It's really a buyer's market now. I'm just glad to get the flat off my hands."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2015, with the headline 'HDB resale volume surges 28% as prices dip'. Print Edition | Subscribe