HDB upgraders buying smaller private homes; private home owners buying bigger units

Residential buildings stand in the Grange Road area of Singapore. Buyers with HDB addresses are opting for smaller apartments when they venture into the private housing market, according to DTZ Research. -- ST PHOTO: BLOOMBERG
Residential buildings stand in the Grange Road area of Singapore. Buyers with HDB addresses are opting for smaller apartments when they venture into the private housing market, according to DTZ Research. -- ST PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

BUYERS with HDB addresses are opting for smaller apartments when they venture into the private housing market, according to DTZ Research.

It found that 66 per cent of HDB home owners bought units of less than 100 sq m in the first quarter of this year, up from the 62 per cent in the final three months of last year. The median size of the purchased units fell 2.3 per cent to 85 sq m.

Of the 913 units bought by people with HDB addresses in the first quarter, about 36 per cent were priced from $750,000 to $1.05 million. The median price they paid dropped 8.6 per cent to about $1 million in the first quarter of this year from the fourth quarter of 2014.

Home buyers with private addresses, on the other hand, were buying bigger homes, with the median size increasing 6.8 per cent to 110 sq m over the same period.

On the whole, home purchases in the private market continued to slow, falling 27 per cent quarter-on-quarter to 2,120 transactions - the lowest since the global financial crisis in 2008.

This was due partly to a drop in primary sales in the first quarter, which slumped 43 per cent to 864 transactions, said the report, which was released on Thursday.

It added: "While sales tend to be slower in the first quarter due to festivities, many developers and buyers were also waiting on the sidelines.

"They were anticipating whether the cooling measures would be adjusted during the announcement of the Budget."

Notably, about 42 per cent of the non-landed units that changed hands during the first quarter fell within the price range of $750,000 to $1.4 million - about 5.4 percentage points higher than in the previous three months.

There were fewer purchases by foreign buyers in the first quarter, with transactions down 48 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2014 to 146.

Purchases by Singaporeans declined 26 per cent, permanent residents by 17 per cent and companies by 27 per cent in the same period.

But sales in both the primary and secondary markets are expected to have picked up in this quarter, said the report, noting that the market is growing accustomed to cooling measures and the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework.

It added that preliminary figures from caveats lodged in April suggest that there was more foreign interest in luxury homes costing more than $5 million. This is further corroborated by what was observed on the ground and anecdotal evidence.

"Despite facing higher stamp duties to buy properties in Singapore, foreign investors continue to be drawn to Singapore for its infrastructure, security, political stability and high education standards," said the report.

"There are also investors scouring for value-for-money properties."

tsjwoo@sph.com.sg