Resale prices of private apartments started the year on a brighter note but no one is tipping a major rebound any time soon.
Values rose 0.6 per cent last month from December but were still 1.7 per cent below prices in the same month last year, and 7.2 per cent down from the peak in January 2014, according to flash estimates from SRX Property yesterday.
"The overall trend for the year should still be downwards," said ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim, citing economic headwinds and a supply-demand mismatch in the rental market, with fewer foreign professionals here.
Last month's price rise came after December's 0.5 per cent drop - revised from a 0.8 per cent fall.
Prices were higher across all areas, led by the core central region (CCR)'s 1 per cent increase. Values rose 0.8 per cent in the suburbs and 0.1 per cent in the city fringes.
"While monthly statistics for the property market may contain too much noise, the increase for January cannot be simply dismissed as a random uptick as all three regions experienced price increases," said Savills Singapore research head Alan Cheong.
The resale price index for the CCR rose for the third straight month last month and is now at the level as in April 2014. Resale volumes last month fell about 20 per cent from December to an estimated 364, though that was 3.7 per cent higher than in January last year.
If resale volumes rise significantly year on year, prices could start stabilising early this year rather than in the second half, said Mr Cheong.
But price stabilisation will likely not be broad-based. It is more likely to take place in the CCR, while prices in the city fringes and suburbs should continue to show weakness.
"(There could be some price increases in the CCR as) the relative price difference between our prime non-landed properties and those of other major gateway cities is too great to ignore and some buyers may want to look at price arbitration," he added.
Still, there are probably too few transactions for now to discern whether prices are levelling off. The CCR, for instance, has a wide spread of products and price levels, which could skew average prices, said Mr Desmond Sim, CBRE research head for Singapore and South-east Asia.