Property market perking up

People are confident that despite the cooling measures, the property market is not going to correct very much more, says PropNex chief executive Mohd Ismail.
People are confident that despite the cooling measures, the property market is not going to correct very much more, says PropNex chief executive Mohd Ismail. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Private and public housing resale numbers are up as prices stabilise

The mood in the real estate sector has been mostly gloomy for a while but sentiment has clearly improved from this time last year with talk that prices could start bouncing off the bottom.

There were 5,510 private property resales in the 11 months to Nov 30, up 20.8 per cent from the same period last year, according to data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

Public housing resales are up as well with about 19,000 transactions expected for this year, around 10 per cent ahead of last year, said PropNex Realty.

PropNex chief executive Mohd Ismail said: "Prices are generally consolidating. People are confident that even with all the cooling measures in place, the property market is not going to correct very much more."

The figures indicate that most of the price declines appear to have occurred last year.

Take a buyer with $1.2 million. He could get a three-bedroom unit at 1,300 sq ft in older 99-year leasehold condos, but the same amount could buy a three-bedroom unit of just over 900 sq ft at a new launch.

Resale prices of non-landed properties dropped 1.2 per cent in the first 11 months of this year, according to flash estimates from SRX Property yesterday.

In comparison, they fell 4 per cent over the whole of last year.

Resale prices even rose 0.6 per cent last month over October, following a 0.6 per cent month- on-month decrease in October.

While last month's change could be a monthly fluctuation and prices may fall this month, it does not negate the fact that there is a "notable turnaround of events", noted Savills research head Alan Cheong.

"Many analysts expected resale prices to continue falling well into next year... (but) buyers are coming back to the resale market, probably seeing value for money after waiting for two years for prices to crash, and they did not."

Similarly, HDB resale prices moderated by less than 2 per cent for the year so far, compared to the full-year fall of over 6 per cent last year.

They rose about 0.4 per cent last month from October, thanks to a 0.5 per cent rise for four-roomers and an increase of 1.4 per cent for five-room homes, according to SRX estimates last week.

"HDB prices may not even fall next year and could grow as much as 1 per cent for the year," said Mr Ismail. "With increased transactions, there is no reason for prices to continue to slide."

Private home resales were up across all three regions - they rose 31 per cent year-on-year to 1,226 units in the core central region for the first 11 months, according to URA data.

Mr Cheong of Savills noted that this area's strength, which began in December last year, began to taper off in August when the haze sent foreign buyers shopping for properties elsewhere.

However, resale volumes were also up elsewhere. Transactions rose 21.5 per cent to 1,650 units in the city fringes and 16.1 per cent to 2,634 units in the suburbs, in the first 11 months.

Many buyers are purchasing for their own use and have come to appreciate that resale properties tend to be larger, said Mr Eugene Lim, ERA Realty key executive officer.

Take a buyer with $1.2 million. He could get a three-bedroom unit at 1,300 sq ft in older 99-year leasehold condos, but the same amount could buy a three-bedroom unit of just over 900 sq ft at a new launch.

Many are buying near schools or their workplaces and are increasingly showing interest in regional centres, including Jurong and Tampines, Mr Lim added.

There could be an even higher number of resale transactions next year, while any more price declines should be marginal, experts said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 09, 2015, with the headline 'Property market perking up'. Print Edition | Subscribe