The rental market is likely to see a temporary slowdown due to the coronavirus outbreak, with data out yesterday showing that leasing volume was already down last month.
But there was some better news for landlords, with rents for private apartments and condominiums up 0.9 per cent from December to last month, after dipping 0.5 per cent in December.
Private home rents rose 2.9 per cent year on year from January 2018, but were still down 15.6 per cent from the peak in January 2013.
The stronger rents came on the back of fewer private homes being completed last year and some older estates being demolished after being sold en bloc.
Leasing volume for private non-landed homes declined for a sixth consecutive month, dipping by 4.9 per cent month on month to 3,892 units, according to flash data from real estate portal SRX Property.
The lower volume could be attributed to higher rents and the Chinese New Year period when the number of viewings typically falls as both landlords and tenants are on holiday, said Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie.
Although leasing volume was lower, SRX's rental index increased, mainly because the decrease in supply was greater than the decline in demand, said ERA Realty head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak.
Rental volumes for condominiums were down 22.5 per cent year on year last month and 7.5 per cent lower than the five-year average volume for the month.
Ms Sun expects a temporary slowdown in the rental market as the outbreak of the virus hits sectors like tourism, hospitality and Mice (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions).
She said: "This may have some impact on hiring, which may affect the leasing market temporarily. However, we may expect leasing demand to rebound when the situation stabilises or improves."
Rents in the HDB market rose 0.8 per cent last month from December. Year on year, they were up 2 per cent but still down 13.5 per cent from their peak in August 2013. Rental volumes dipped 5.1 per cent, with 1,653 HDB flats taken up last month compared with 1,741 in December.