Resale of private non-landed homes shot up 17 per cent from February to March although prices barely moved, according to flash data yesterday.
But the year-on-year numbers are far more sobering: Transactions were down 13 per cent on the same month last year and 21 per cent below the five-year average volume for March.
There were around 700 units resold last month compared with 606 units in February, real estate portal SRX Property noted.
February's lower-than-average sales were the result of a "triple whammy" of the coronavirus outbreak, the Chinese New Year seasonal slowdown and the supply of new units from recent launches.
Orange Tee & Tie's head of research and consultancy, Ms Christine Sun, said last month's higher sales could be attributed to transactions struck before the escalation of the Covid-19 crisis in late March.
And buyers in urgent need of a home could have rushed to seal a deal before stricter safe distancing measures kicked in.
"We may expect sales to slow down next month as house viewings are currently being postponed as a result of the circuit breaker measures," added Ms Sun.
ERA Realty head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak expects resale volume this month to be a fraction of the typical monthly volume of 600 to 900 units, given the ban on house viewings.
He said: "Even after the lifting of the circuit breaker period, economic uncertainties could still keep a lid on property prices and transaction volume. This could also lead to a gradual accumulation of pent-up demand that could spill into the real estate market once the pandemic is contained."
SRX's data for last month showed overall resale prices edged up 0.1 per cent over February and 0.4 per cent from March last year.
Mr Mak noted: "This points to the underlying strength in the local real estate market. The numbers suggest that under normal circumstances, where we do not have to worry whether the stranger sitting next to us on the train could be infected by a highly contagious pathogen, real estate prices and transaction volume would be rising robustly."
The highest price for a resale unit last month was $10.5 million paid for a luxury freehold apartment at The Ritz-Carlton Residences in Cairnhill Road. In the city fringes, a unit at Pebble Bay, a 99-year leasehold condo in Tanjong Rhu, went for $4.4 million. The most expensive sale in the suburbs last month was a unit at Flamingo Valley, a freehold condo in Siglap Road, which resold for $3.3 million.