HDB resale prices inch up for first time in 9 quarters

The slight uptick in the public housing market came amid strong gains in the private property market.
The slight uptick in the public housing market came amid strong gains in the private property market. PHOTO: ST FILE

But analysts say it is too early to suggest a recovery in the public housing market

Resale prices of Housing Board flats inched up for the first time in nine quarters, sparking hopes that the public housing resale market has bottomed out.

Data released by the HDB yesterday also showed that more resale flats were sold in the second quarter of this year. The number of transactions rose 33.3 per cent from the previous quarter, from 4,458 to 5,941, while the resale price index rose slightly by 0.1 per cent.

While the slight brightening was cause for cheer for HDB home owners, who have watched prices trend downwards since the peak in the second quarter of 2013, analysts said it was too early to call it a recovery in the public housing market, which has languished beside the heated private market in the past 12 months.

ZACD Group executive director Nicholas Mak cautioned against reading too much into the jump in transaction volume, as records over the past 13 years show the same bump in the second quarter of each year.

The slight uptick in the public housing market came amid strong gains in the private property market. Private residential prices rose 3.4 per cent, marking the fourth straight quarter of increase and bringing the increase for the first half of this year to 7.4 per cent.

Transaction volumes soared to a five-year high, according to statistics from the Urban Redevelopment Authority. Excluding executive condominiums, volumes jumped 34.9 per cent from the first quarter to hit 7,186 units, the highest level since the first quarter of 2013 which saw 7,811 units sold.

However, with the cooling measures introduced earlier this month to raise the stamp duty and lower the loan-to-value (LTV) limit among other things, expectations are that any further rises in private home prices will moderate.

OrangeTee & Tie head of research and consultancy Christine Sun said the latest volume of HDB transactions may be sustained if the cooling measures turn potential buyers away from condos to the HDB resale market instead.

She said: "The increased cash or Central Provident Fund outlay, as a result of the stricter LTV limit, could be hefty for HDB upgraders, who tend to be more price-sensitive."

Calling the increase in the resale price index a marginal improvement, Mr Mak said: "The increase is so minimal that further observation in the next few months is needed to determine if this is truly the start of a market recovery."

He added: "If the recovery of the HDB resale price index is sustainable, the rate of growth for the entire year will likely be gradual and almost flat, ranging from -0.3 per cent to +1.5 per cent year on year."

Resale flats fetching some of the highest median prices were in the central district, Toa Payoh and Queenstown. Three-room flats in Bukit Batok and Jurong West were the most affordable, fetching median prices of $264,000 and $260,000 respectively.

About 4,300 new flats in Punggol and Yishun will be offered for sale next month, while a Re-Offer of Balance Flats sales exercise will be held at the same time.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2018, with the headline 'HDB resale prices inch up for first time in 9 quarters'. Print Edition | Subscribe