Condo resale prices up, but coronavirus outbreak may hit sales

Resale prices and sales of private homes inched up last month, but analysts are bracing themselves for a possible fallout from the coronavirus outbreak.

Condominium and apartment resale prices edged up 0.5 per cent from last December to last month, while the number of transactions rose 4 per cent.

The sale of 684 units last November was relatively low compared with in the preceding months, perhaps due to the lull before the Chinese New Year season.

Last month's sales volume was still 15.9 per cent higher than in the same month last year, and 13.4 per cent above the five-year average volume for January, according to flash data from SRX Property yesterday.

Despite the effects of Chinese New Year, resale prices were on a slight upward trend, said ERA Realty's head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak. They were up 2.3 per cent year on year last month, after rising by 1.7 per cent last year.

Mr Mak said the private resale market could see the effects of the virus outbreak this month, with transaction volumes more affected than prices. "Potential home buyers may avoid viewing resale properties for fear of coming into contact with the coronavirus.

"Property sellers may be reluctant to open up their homes for strangers... as they are worried that there is a chance that one or more of the buyers could be a carrier. As a result, the resale volume in the first quarter of 2020 could fall by as much as 25 to 35 per cent quarter on quarter."

But prices could be more resilient.

"Property owners who are not in a hurry to dispose of their real estate would resist lowering their asking prices, especially if they are confident that this virus outbreak, like all other previous outbreaks, would eventually pass," said Mr Mak.

Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie, said it is too early to gauge the impact of the virus on the private resale market.

"Currently, there is no major impact on the property market as it is not one of the sectors that are directly affected by the coronavirus, unlike tourism, retail, food and beverage, and Mice," she said, referring to meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions.

SRX data shows the highest transacted price for a resale unit last month was $18.2 million for an apartment at Le Nouvel Ardmore at Ardmore Park in prime District 10. In the city fringes, a unit at Camelot By The Water in Tanjong Rhu went for $6.6 million, while in the suburbs, a unit at Waterfront Key in Bedok Reservoir was resold for $3.2 million.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2020, with the headline 'Condo resale prices up, but virus outbreak may hit sales'. Subscribe