Condo resale volume falls 23.8% in Jan amid cooling measures, prices up 0.4%

An estimated 1,118 units changed hands last month, down from the 1,468 units the month before. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Resale condominium transactions fell 23.8 per cent in January, amid property cooling measures that were introduced in December.

But resale prices continue to climb, rising 0.4 per cent in January, according to flash figures by and SRX Property released on Tuesday (Feb 15).

This marks the 18th consecutive month of growth. Compared with January last year, prices are up by 9.2 per cent, data showed.

An estimated 1,118 units changed hands last month, down from the 1,468 units the month before, marking the fifth straight month of declining resale volume.

Property experts said the dip in resale volume comes as buyers were hit by the new cooling measures, which included higher additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) rates.

Since Dec 16, the ABSD rates were raised from 12 per cent to 17 per cent for citizens buying their second residential property, and from 15 per cent to 25 per cent for those buying their third and subsequent properties. The total debt servicing ratio for borrowers has also been tightened from 60 per cent to 55 per cent.

The ABSD is 30 per cent, up from 20 per cent, for foreigners buying any residential property.

Ms Christine Sun, senior vice-president of research and analytics at real estate firm OrangeTee & Tie, said: "Foreigners and investors seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach as they are more affected by the new cooling measures."

Huttons Asia chief executive Mark Yip added that the lower sales could also be due to the lead-up to Chinese New Year and mismatch in price expectations between buyers and sellers.

But he noted that despite the decline in volume, prices held up.

"This could be due to sellers having stronger bargaining power because of better financial position and limited new supply because of construction delays," he added.

Last month, condos in the suburbs accounted for most of the sales volume at around 64.2 per cent. Homes in the city fringes accounted for 21.2 per cent, while the remaining 14.5 per cent were in core central Singapore.

The highest transacted price for a resale condo unit last month was $14.1 million for a unit at Hilltops, a freehold condo in Orchard.

In the city fringes, the highest transacted price was $11 million for a 99-year leasehold unit at Reflections At Keppel Bay in HarbourFront.

In suburban areas, a unit at freehold Elliot At The East Coast in the Marine Parade area sold for $4 million.

PropNex Realty head of research and content Wong Siew Ying said that Housing Board upgraders are expected to help boost condo resale demand this year, noting that condos in the suburbs led resale volumes last month due to demand from HDB upgraders and owner-occupiers.

"With HDB resale prices at an all-time high, it may encourage more flat owners to sell and upgrade to private housing," she said.

"In addition, the large number of flats due to reach the five-year minimum occupation period this year - estimated at over 31,000 units - could also see some families taking the opportunity to swop their flat for a private condo."

Ms Sun added that the lack of new home supply this year may help prop up demand for resale homes.

She estimated 15,000 to 17,000 resale homes to change hands this year, higher than the 10-year average of over 9,000 units, but added that resale prices for condos may rise at a slower rate of 3 per cent to 6 per cent.

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