SINGAPORE - Housing Board (HDB) resale flat volumes hit a 30-year low, plummeting 78.3 per cent in April from March, as circuit breaker measures put in place to stem the spread of the coronavirus curb house viewings.
Just 423 flats changed hands last month, 78.1 per cent lower than in April last year, estimates from real estate portal SRX Property showed on Friday (May 8).
This is the lowest since May 1990 when 778 flats were resold, and also lower than the 2,160 flats resold in April 2003 during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak.
Prices also fell, declining by 1.5 per cent for three-room HDB flats, 0.2 per cent for four-room flats, and 1.8 per cent for executive flats. Prices for five-room flats bucked the trend by rising 0.2 per cent.
Overall, resale prices in April were 0.04 per cent lower than in March, although they were still 1 per cent higher than in April last year.
Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie, said last month's transactions were possibly the lowest sales volume on record, based on government data.
She said: "While sales demand usually moderates during an economic crisis, last month's transaction (volume) was much lower than what was observed in previous crises.
"The stay-home measures have complicated the whole home-buying process, such that all physical house viewings were not permitted and prospective buyers had to rely solely on remote means such as virtual house tours to assess the condition of a resale home before making a purchase."
Although immersive virtual home tours could be offered, some buyers may still prefer a physical inspection of the units, Ms Sun said, adding that flat sales will likely pick up when house viewings resume.
Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research and consultancy at ERA Realty, agreed, noting that the 423 flats resold in April were a sharp contrast to the 1,949 units that changed hands in March.
Saying that the resale volume "fell off the cliff", Mr Mak said that HDB resale transactions could decrease by up to 25 per cent this year.
Of the flats resold in April, about half of the volume comes from four-room flats, 26.7 per cent from five-room flats, 22.5 per cent from three-room flats and 9 per cent from executive units.
The highest price paid for a resale flat last month was $1.01 million for a five-room unit at SkyTerrace @ Dawson in Queenstown. SRX data showed that this was the only flat that sold for more than $1 million last month.