Resale condo prices up in May, with more sold

High rise private condominiums on the Singapore East Coast.
High rise private condominiums on the Singapore East Coast.PHOTO: ST FILE

Prices rise 0.4% over April, number of deals up 17.4%, but experts split on whether it signals market recovery

More sales and higher prices last month have sparked talk that the property market could finally be on the cusp of recovery after a three-year slump.

Resale prices of private condominiums rose 0.4 per cent last month over April while the number of transactions shot up 17.4 per cent, according to SRX Property flash estimates yesterday.

Prices were ahead 1.5 per cent from May last year.

SRX Property said last month's uptick in resale prices followed a revised 0.2 per cent decline from March to April. The increase was led by improvements in the core central and city-fringe regions - each rose 1.1 per cent from April - but the suburbs recorded a marginal price decline of 0.4 per cent from April to last month.

The big mover came in the area of transactions, with 1,235 private condos resold last month - up a striking 57.7 per cent from the 783 shifted in May last year and 17.4 per cent ahead of April.

Despite the better numbers, there are mixed views on whether they herald a market recovery.

"The market has turned after an over-extended downcycle... I believe prices will rise gradually over the course of the year," noted Mr Alan Cheong, head of research at Savills Singapore.

Dr Lee Nai Jia, head of South-east Asia research at consultancy Edmund Tie and Company, said: "The price trend, together with the diminishing supply of unsold units in the primary market and higher land bids, do suggest that the market has bottomed and stabilised."

But consultancy OrangeTee told The Straits Times that it is premature to make that call owing to the challenging leasing market.

Said its research and consultancy head Wong Xian Yang: "Rents are still falling and would continue to exert downward pressure on prices, so it might be too early to call a bottoming out of the market."

However, Mr Wong expects resale volumes to continue to increase as buyers return to pick up units amid improving sentiment and relatively low interest rates.

Dr Lee added that the healthy sales at new project launches, bullish bids for development sites among developers and the recent surge in collective deals will further stoke buying interest.

Overall private home values - including new and resale properties - had fallen by 11.6 per cent from a peak in the third quarter of 2013 to March 31 this year.

SRX's median transaction over X-value (TOX) - which measures if buyers are overpaying or underpaying its computer-generated market value - came in at $2,000 last month compared with $5,000 in April.

Harbourfront and Telok Blangah districts posted the highest median TOX at $60,000, while Changi district recorded a negative TOX of $21,000, which meant that most buyers in that district bought units below SRX's computer-generated value.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2017, with the headline 'Resale condo prices up in May, with more sold'. Print Edition | Subscribe