Condo, HDB rents rise again in Feb on lower volumes

Rents kept heading north last month for private apartments and Housing Board flats, as lease numbers for both fell amid the double whammy of the Chinese New Year lull and Covid-19 restrictions.

Rents of condominiums and private apartments rose 1 per cent from January to February while HDB rates increased 0.5 per cent, according to flash data from real estate portal SRX yesterday.

Condo rents were up for a second straight month and 1.2 per cent higher than in February last year, but still 14 per cent lower than their peak in January 2013.

HDB rents have risen for eight straight months and are now up 5.2 per cent from June last year, but still down 11.6 per cent from their peak in August 2013.

Ms Christine Sun, OrangeTee & Tie's senior vice-president of research and analytics, said occupancy is rather high now as many tenants have chosen to renew contracts over the past few months.

"More locals are staying in Singapore, resulting in fewer listings and homes being put up for rental. The reduced available stock for rental may have helped to prop up rents in recent months," she noted.

The SRX index suggests rents for both markets are still on a general uptrend and may keep rising as travel curbs are further eased and more foreigners return, she added.

Rental volume, meanwhile, dropped last month for both the HDB and private markets.

February's condo leasings declined 9.9 per cent month on month to an estimated 4,013 units. The figure is 19.5 per cent below that for the same month last year.

The number of HDB rentals fell 17.7 per cent to an estimated 1,497 flats last month compared with 1,819 in January, and was down 23.2 per cent on February last year.

Ms Sun noted that on top of the typical Chinese New Year slowdown, Covid-19 visiting restrictions imposed during this year's festive period further impacted the rental market as fewer viewings could be arranged.

Activity may pick up this month as house viewings resume, she added.

ERA Realty research and consultancy head Nicholas Mak said the vaccination roll-out here and in many other countries is widely expected to help the leasing market return to some semblance of pre-Covid-19 normalcy as border restrictions are gradually eased and the employment market starts to expand.

In addition, delays in constructing HDB Build-To-Order flats have also led some newly married couples to explore renting for a year or so while they await the completion of their units, he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2021, with the headline 'Condo, HDB rents rise again in Feb on lower volumes'. Subscribe