Condo, HDB rents slip in September; leasing demand may slow

Private and public housing in the central and southern part of Singapore seen from Orchard Road.
Private and public housing in the central and southern part of Singapore seen from Orchard Road.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Rents in Singapore fell in September for both non-landed private homes and HDB flats as compared to August, though the rents rose on a year-on-year basis. This is according to SRX flash data released on Wednesday (Oct 9). 

Meanwhile, rental volumes fell for private condominiums, but rose for HDB flats on a month-on-month basis. 

Overall rents for condos declined 0.4 per cent from August, but grew by 3.2 per cent year on year. Condo rents in September were also down 16.9 per cent from the peak in January 2013, with all regions experiencing rental price decreases. 

The core central region (CCR) was the hardest hit, with a 1.1 per cent fall in September, while rents in the city fringes or rest of central region (RCR) slipped 0.2 per cent, and rents in the suburbs or outside central region (OCR) dipped 0.1 per cent.

Year on year, condo rents in all regions increased: CCR by 4 per cent, RCR by 2.8 per cent and OCR by 2.9 per cent. 

In addition, about 4,193 condo units were leased in September, down 11.9 per cent from 4,759 units in August. However, volumes were 9.5 per cent higher than the five-year average volume for the month of September. Year on year, condo rental volumes shrank 7.3 per cent from September 2018.

Citing that rental volume for private condos shrank for a second consecutive month, Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie, said: “While leasing demand typically slows down towards the end of the year, the lower leasing volume and rental prices could also be attributed to a possible pullback in hiring and the slower economic growth.

“Many firms have taken a more cautious approach to their hiring and expansion plans in light of the slowing economy. Some companies have also turned to upskill their staff instead of hiring new employees. As hiring expectations for the last quarter of this year have dimmed amid the current global economic headwinds, leasing momentum may slow further in the coming months.”

Nicholas Mak, head of research and consultancy at ERA Realty, added: “Due to the softer employment market which would lead to fewer foreigners being employed, the number of private residential properties leased dropped in September, as foreigners usually make up the majority of the residential tenants.”

In the public housing market, HDB rents dipped 0.3 per cent from August, and were down 14.8 per cent from its peak in August 2013. In particular, five-room and executive rents rose by 0.1 per cent and 0.2 per cent respectively, while three-room and four-room rents fell respectively by 1.1 per cent and 0.3 per cent.

Year on year, HBD rents climbed 1.1 per cent in September, with all room types except executive flats experiencing rental increases. In mature estates, rentals rose by 1.3 per cent, while those in non-mature estates were up by 0.8 per cent from a year ago. 

Noting that HDB rents fell for a second consecutive month, Ms Sun said she expects HDB rents to flatline, or face some downward pressure with the increasing supply of flats, and a possible hiring contraction in the coming months. 

 
 

For the month of September, about 1,802 HDB flats were rented, representing a 2.6 per cent increase from the 1,756 units in August, and 4.8 per cent higher than the five-year average volume for the month. 

By room types, three-room flats were the most popular last month, making up 34.9 per cent of the total rental volume, followed by four-room flats which took up 33.9 per cent. Five-room flats accounted for 24.8 per cent of volume, while executive flats accounted for 6.3 per cent. 

Year on year, HDB rental volumes decreased by 2.6 per cent from September 2018. 

Mr Mak noted that the decline in condo rental volume could be partly due to the seasonal effect as the market approaches the fourth quarter, which is traditionally a lull period, and that a similar seasonal pattern was observed for HDB rental volume.

“During the last 12 months, the HDB rental volume peaked in March 2019, and gradually declined... Going forward, the HDB and private residential leasing market is likely to remain fairly stable with little upward pressure,” added Mr Mak.