Private resale prices up 1% in July but sales down 2.8%

Bigger-than-expected fall in volume suggests market has been hit by July 6 property curbs

The latest property cooling measures have begun to affect the private resale market, going by the first market-wide snapshot since the curbs hit on July 6.

Real estate portal SRX Property's flash estimates for last month, released yesterday, showed resale prices of condominiums and private apartments rose 1 per cent month on month to a new six-year high, making for 12 months of uninterrupted rise.

Compared with a year ago, resale prices are up by 12.3 per cent from July last year, and have climbed 9 per cent so far this year.

But more interestingly, there was a bigger-than-expected decline in the volume of transactions, and an SRX indicator, called the TOX, showed a sharp drop in how much buyers were willing to pay above market value.

SRX figures show an estimated 1,085 non-landed private resale units were sold in July, 31 units fewer than, or a 2.8 per cent decline from, the 1,116 units resold in June and 1.5 per cent lower than the 1,102 units in July last year.

Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research and consultancy at ZACD Group, noted July's estimated resale volume was about 16.8 per cent lower than the 12-month average (1,304 units) for the period from July 2017 to June this year, and said the latest property curbs could be an attributing factor.

"Unlike the residential primary sales market whereby a few developers were able to quickly activate their show-flats and sales agents on the evening of July 5 to capture the last-minute sales before the new cooling measures kicked in, a large majority of the individual sellers in the resale market were not able to react as quickly," he said.

Meanwhile, SRX data also showed its overall median Transaction Over X-Value (TOX) fell to a positive $4,000 last month, a sharp drop from $17,000 in June.

TOX measures how much a buyer is overpaying or underpaying on a property based on the firm's computer-generated market value.

OrangeTee & Tie's head of research and consultancy Christine Sun said: "The trend may indicate that the price gap between buyers and sellers has narrowed as the latter are more willing to negotiate in the light of the cooling measures, but not quite ready to offload their units below valuation."

She said that while TOX fell last month, it is still in the positive price territory. She added that the numerous policies set in motion previously have already eradicated much speculative buying and prevented many families from over-leveraging.

"The market is now limited mainly to genuine home buyers and cash-rich investors," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2018, with the headline 'Private resale prices up 1% in July but sales down 2.8%'. Print Edition | Subscribe