HDB resale volume hits new low, but prices hold steady

Small rise in prices shows there is no panic selling despite falling demand, say analysts

The fall in HDB resale volume is only "natural" as physical viewings could not be held during the circuit breaker and people are reluctant to buy unless they can actually see the unit, says Ms Christine Sun of OrangeTee & Tie.
The fall in HDB resale volume is only "natural" as physical viewings could not be held during the circuit breaker and people are reluctant to buy unless they can actually see the unit, says Ms Christine Sun of OrangeTee & Tie.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Housing Board flat resale volume plunged to a new low last month, compounding the already dismal transaction levels seen in April.

There were 364 flats changing hands last month - down 13.9 per cent from the 423 resold in April, data from real estate firm SRX showed yesterday.

The figures for the two circuit breaker months were well under the previous low of 778 flats resold in May 1990.

The resale market also fared worse than during previous disease outbreaks. In May 2003, during the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak, the resale volume still reached 2,272 flats.

Prices held steady last month, increasing just 0.1 per cent over April. Analysts said this shows that there was no panic selling, with sellers maintaining asking prices despite what appeared to be free-falling demand.

Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie, said the sales decline was only "natural" as physical viewings could not be held during the circuit breaker period and people are reluctant to buy unless they can actually see the unit.

This matches the trend in the private property resale market, she added, although home seekers seem to be getting used to making decisions based on virtual home tours.

"We have noticed that more buyers are becoming receptive. More resale sellers who are in urgent need to offload their units and buyers who need an immediate home may adopt such virtual tours," said Ms Sun. "Virtual tours may be here to stay as long as Covid-19 continues to linger."

ERA Realty research and consultancy head Nicholas Mak said there was still "underlying strength" in the HDB resale market "about three to four months after Covid-19 reached our shores", with prices edging higher than last month's and still higher than a year ago.

"There was no 'fire sale'," he said.

"Although house viewings were disallowed during the partial lockdown in May, sellers were still able to hold their asking prices and transacted HDB flats at prices that were slightly higher than in previous months."

Mr Mak noted that the median prices of most flat types, such as three-, four-and five-roomers, increased from April to last month.

"There were even two HDB flats that were reportedly sold for more than $1 million each in May," he said.

  • 364 

    Number of flats that changed hands last month - down 13.9 per cent from the 423 resold in April, according to data from real estate firm SRX.

    778

    Number of flats sold in May 1990 - the previous low. The figures for the two circuit breaker months this year are well under this number. 

Ms Sun and Mr Mak feel the worst is over now that restrictive measures are being gradually eased.

But the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on sales is inevitable, they said.

Mr Mak predicts that about 17,000 to 20,000 HDB flats could be resold this year, falling short of the 23,714 recorded last year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 05, 2020, with the headline 'HDB resale volume hits new low, but prices hold steady'. Subscribe