SINGAPORE - The number of Housing Board resale flats sold for at least $1 million each hit a new high last year amid a strong showing by the market despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to flash data from real estate portal SRX released on Thursday (Jan 7).
There were 82 million-dollar flats transacted in 2020, compared with 64 for 2019, after December saw 10 more of such transactions. They make up about 0.35 per cent of the total number of HDB resale flats sold last year.
SRX's flash estimates for December also reveal that overall HDB resale prices rose for the sixth consecutive month, bringing the total price rise for 2020 to 6.4 per cent, much more than the 0.3 per cent increase seen in 2019.
ERA Realty head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said: "This performance of the HDB resale prices and transaction volume illustrated that the adverse impact of the pandemic and economic recession is like water off a duck's back."
HDB advance estimates released last week showed that resale prices rose 2.9 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020 from the previous three months, marking the biggest quarterly increase in over nine years. For all of 2020, resale prices rose 4.8 per cent, according to HDB's preliminary data.
Said Mr Mak: "The resale transactions of HDB flats that recently completed the five-year minimum occupation period continue to exert its influence on the HDB price index. These newer flats would usually be sold at higher prices than the older flats in the same vicinity."
Some of the locations with new resale flats that were transacted at higher prices are Dawson, Punggol and in Boon Tiong Road, he said.
Meanwhile, monthly sales hit 2,489 units in December, according to SRX estimates. This is the seventh straight month where resale flat transactions surpassed the 2,000-unit mark, mitigating the sharp drop in sales in April and May during the circuit breaker.
Based on SRX's figures, the string of strong monthly sales took the total resale flat volume to 23,427 units for the full year of 2020, which is 4.3 per cent higher than in 2019.
Mr Mak said the pandemic actually fuelled that expansion of the HDB resale market.
"Before Covid-19 became a household word, applicants for HDB Build-To-Order (BTO) flats may have had to wait about three years to get the keys to their new flats. The pandemic led to bottlenecks and delays in the construction of many public housing projects, which could add another one to two years to the completion of the flats. As a result, some potential HDB BTO applicants are turning to the resale market for their home purchases."
He added that December is also usually a lull period in the property market, but the travel restrictions that kept many Singaporeans at home mean that the HDB resale market continued to operate as normal.
Propnex head of research and content Wong Siew Ying added: "Our market observations suggest that buying interest remains keen and the rebound in sales in recent months have prompted some sellers to increase their asking price. OrangeTee & Tie head of research and consultancy Christine Sun noted that the unexpected housing boom is also likely to be "fuelled by the record-low mortgage rates, huge fiscal stimulus programmes designed to fend off an economic disaster and the slew of policy changes made to improve the HDB market conditions over the past two years."
"In addition, stiff competition for choice flats also saw buyers offering a higher price in order to secure the unit."
Areas such as Bishan Street 24 and Dawson Road saw some of the million-dollar HDB resale transactions last month.
The highest transacted price for a resale flat last month was achieved at $1,218,888 by a five-room Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) unit at Natura Loft.
The HDB resale market is likely to stay strong this year, experts said.
Ms Sun said: "We may expect demand for HDB resale market to continue to do well this year. We anticipate that the prices of resale flats may rise further by 2 per cent to 5 per cent."
Resale volume may also increase by another 3 per cent to 5 per cent to around 24,000 to 26,000 units for the whole of 2021, she said.