Rental demand for HDB, condo units up as Covid-19 curbs ease

Rental demand for both Housing Board and condominium units rebounded last month after tenants returned to the market as Covid-19 viewing restrictions eased.

Flash data from real estate portal SRX yesterday showed that the rental volume for private apartments rose 6.6 per cent month on month in August to 4,907 units.

The number of HDB flats leased increased by 6 per cent to 1,842 over the same period. This comes after a decline in rental volumes for two straight months for both private apartments and HDB flats.

Year on year, rental volumes were higher by 2.1 per cent for private apartments and 5.7 per cent for HDB apartments.

Rents for private apartments last month were relatively unchanged, inching down 0.08 per cent from July, while HDB rents saw a small increase of 0.3 per cent. This marks the 14th consecutive month HDB rents have climbed while, before last month, condo rents had risen for seven straight months.

Condo rents have gone up by 7.6 per cent since August last year, but they are still down 10.9 per cent from their peak in January 2013.

Last month's HDB rents were up 8.6 per cent year on year. They are off by 7.3 per cent from their peak in August 2013.

Ms Christine Sun, senior vice-president of research and analytics at real estate firm OrangeTee & Tie, said the rise in demand followed the easing of viewing restrictions from a cap of two visitors per household per day to five after Aug 10.

Domestic demand seems to be propping up the leasing market, she said, adding: "We have observed more locals renting, especially HDB upgraders who have recently sold their homes.

"Others leased temporarily as the construction of their new homes had been delayed. Hence, rents of more affordable housing units like private homes in the outside of central region and HDB flats continued to rise last month."

She said there were more tenants who were students or permanent residents who have returned from overseas. "When border controls ease further, we may expect rental demand to rise further."

Huttons chief executive Mark Yip said a boost to condo rental demand in the short term was unlikely, with the country's endemic road map on pause. "The HDB rental market saw sustained growth in August. Some single professionals choose to rent so as to have their own space while working from home, resulting in an increase in demand."

"However, resident unemployment rate inched up in July; that may exert some pressure on rents in the coming months," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2021, with the headline 'Rental demand for HDB, condo units up as Covid-19 curbs ease'. Subscribe