Home prices rose overall last year but slower economic growth and tough cooling measures meant they struggled to match 2018's more buoyant pace.
Prices advanced by 2.5 per cent last year compared with a 7.9 per cent jump in 2018, data showed yesterday.
The steam certainly went out of the market late last year, with prices edging up just 0.3 per cent from the third to the fourth quarter following a far more robust increase of 1.3 per cent from the second quarter to the third.
Analysts say the slower pace of price rises is in tandem with the year-end holiday season and shows there is no excessive exuberance in the residential market.
Meanwhile, public housing owners finally have something to cheer about. The HDB resale price index has now clocked up two straight quarters of price growth after a decline that started in mid-2013.
Analysts cited policy changes and initiatives such as the Enhanced Central Provident Fund (CPF) Housing Grant and changes in the use of CPF funds for the purchase of older Housing Board flats.
Yesterday's Urban Redevelopment Authority flash data also showed that overall private home price gains were driven by landed homes.
Values in this segment rose 4 per cent from the third to the fourth quarter, after gaining 1 per cent in the previous quarter.
"The volume of transactions for landed homes has remained stable between the second quarter in 2019 and the fourth quarter, reflecting firm demand," said Mr Ong Teck Hui, JLL's senior director of research & consultancy.
But prices of non-landed homes fell 0.7 per cent from the third to the fourth quarter. This followed a rise of 1.3 per cent from the second to the third quarter.
The decline was led by a 3.7 per cent drop in the prime or core central region, compared with a 2 per cent hike in the third quarter.
Analysts cited slower demand and a supply overhang from existing launches.
Colliers International said 43 units at Marina One Residences sold at a median price of $2,242 per sq ft (psf) in the fourth quarter, compared with 30 apartments moved in the third quarter at $2,503 psf.
South Beach Residences sold nine units in the fourth quarter at a median price of $3,097 psf compared with 10 sold at $3,349 psf in the third quarter.
Unsold inventory from existing projects in the core central region jumped fourfold to 825 units in the third quarter last year, Mr Ong noted.
Ms Christine Sun, head of research at OrangeTee & Tie, cited a lack of super-luxury new launches in this zone in the fourth quarter.
Prices in the fringe areas or rest of central region fell 1.4 per cent from the third to the fourth quarter. This followed a 1.3 per cent rise from the second to the third quarter.
Analysts cited an absence of new launches in the fourth quarter and fewer sales above $2,000 psf.
But prices in the suburbs or outside central region held up, rising 2.9 per cent following a 0.8 per cent increase in the previous quarter.
A steady take-up at earlier launches, including Treasure at Tampines and The Florence Residences, and strong pricing at several new projects helped, said Ms Tricia Song, head of research for Singapore at Colliers International.
Sengkang Grand Residences sold 235 units at a median price of $1,741 psf, Dairy Farm Residences moved 36 units at $1,553 psf and Midwood shifted 22 homes at a median price of $1,646 psf.
The flash estimates were based on sale prices in contracts submitted for stamp duty payment and data from developers until mid-December. Numbers will be updated on Jan 23 when the full set of statistics for the fourth quarter are released.