Rentals for private apartments, condos fall again in March but HDB rents hold up better: SRX

A private residential complex among HDB buildings in Toa Payoh.
A private residential complex among HDB buildings in Toa Payoh. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE - Rents of HDB flats continued to withstand the property market chill better than those of private apartments and condominiums, SRX Property's latest flash estimates out on Wednesday (April 13) showed.

Rentals for non-landed private homes in March fell 1 per cent in March from February, when they dropped a revised 0.5 per cent. Private rents were flat in January and up 0.5 per cent in December, breaking a slide of many months.

Compared to a year ago, private rents are down 5.3 per cent. And from their peak in January 2013, they have dropped 15.9 per cent.

Compare this to rents for HDB flats which inched down just 0.1 per cent in March from February.  Year-on-year, HDB rents are down by 3.9 per cent from March 2015, and 9.1 per cent lower from their peak in August 2013.

Falling rents were felt in all locations for the private market, dropping 0.8 per cent in the prime districts, 1.9 per cent in the city fringes 0.4 per cent in outlying suburbs.

On the surface, the good news for the private rental market is that volume was up. The number of units rented out rose 9.3 per cent to 4,331 from a year ago. They jumped 35.5 per cent from February, which suffered the traditional Chinese New Year lull in activity.

But Mr Eugene Lim, key executive officer for ERA Realty Network Pte Ltd, attributed the increase "mostly to rental renewals and the movement of tenants amongst properties for a better deal instead of new demand.

"Also, with weaker economic conditions, expatriates might be sent to Singapore on a project basis, which results in shorter leases signed," he added.

For the HDB market, rental volume in March 2016 increased by 3 per cent yearon-year to 2,214 flats. This was a jump of 44.3 per cent from the 1,534 units rented in February.

Year on year, rents of HDB flats in mature estates slipped 3.2 per cent in March. The drop was more pronounced, at 4.6 per cent, for rents in non-mature estates.

Said Mr Lim: "In this environment of falling rents, flats in mature estates also appear to be more resilient than those in non-mature estates.

"This could be due to their better infrastructure and connectivity, which are important factors tenants look for in a rental flat."