Condo, HDB rents continued to rise in May despite tighter Covid-19 curbs

Rents for condominium units rose by 0.3 per cent compared with the month before and are up 7.3 per cent from a year earlier. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The rental market for both private apartments and Housing Board (HDB) flats in May remained robust despite the tightened Covid-19 measures and border restrictions in place.

Rents for condominium units rose by 0.3 per cent compared with the month before and are up 7.3 per cent from a year earlier. They are still down 11.4 per cent from their peak in January 2013, according to flash data from real estate portal SRX released on Wednesday (June 9).

HDB rents saw a slightly higher increase of 0.7 per cent in May compared with April and are up 7.9 per cent from a year before. However, they are still 9.2 per cent off their highs in August 2013.

With the May increases, condo rents extended their rise to five consecutive months, while HDB rents climbed for 11 straight months.

The rise in rents for HDB flats last month was broad-based, climbing for both mature and non-mature estates, as well as all room types.

Huttons Asia chief executive Mark Yip noted that rents of HDB flats in non-mature estates have risen at a faster rate of 8.6 per cent, compared with the 7.2 per cent increase in mature estates.

"This could be due to tenants moving to non-mature estates where the level of amenities can be on a par or even better than some mature estates," he said.

ERA Realty head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said the increase in rents in both markets illustrates a healthy demand in the local leasing market, despite Singapore going into a month-long heightened alert phase, which is in place till June 13.

Unlike purchasing a property for own stay, Mr Mak said tenants are likely more willing to commit to a rental unit selected through online platforms, hence the reason why the leasing market was largely unaffected by the recent Covid-19 curbs.

"Most leasing contracts have a shorter tenure around one to two years, while buying a property would require a longer commitment. The financial outlay for renting a property is also smaller compared to buying a property," he said.

Rental volume for condo apartments increased by 1.7 per cent to an estimated 4,603 units leased in May compared with 4,527 units the month before.

The number of units rented out last month are also 39.3 per cent higher than May last year, when Singapore was in its circuit breaker period.

Most of the units rented were located in the outside central region, which made up 41.2 per cent of total rental volume.

Units in the city fringes accounted for 30.7 per cent while those in central Singapore made up 28 per cent.

HDB rental volume in May saw a slight drop from April, down 0.9 per cent to an estimated 1,686 units from 1,702 units in April.

HDB rental volume last month is 30.4 per cent higher than a year ago, though 8.5 per cent lower than the five-year average volume for the month of May.

Ms Christine Sun, senior vice-president of research and analytics at real estate firm OrangeTee & Tie, said based on ground observations, the market appears to be propped up by tenants who are renewing their leases and an increasing number of Singaporeans who are renting.

These are likely HDB home owners who sold their flats recently to capitalise on rising HDB resale prices and are renting a place in the meantime, she added.

"Instead of keeping their condos for rental income, some landlords have decided to sell their units too, since the private resale prices are also recovering well in recent months," said Ms Sun, adding that this resulted in the affected tenants having to look for new accommodation.

She expects the rental market to pick up further, should the Covid-19 situation in Singapore continue to improve and borders gradually reopen.

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