The number of Housing Board (HDB) resale flats sold for at least $1 million 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 yesterday.
There were 82 million-dollar flats transacted last year, compared with 64 for 2019, after last month 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.
Resale prices also rose for the sixth consecutive month last month, bringing the total price rise for last year to 6.4 per cent, much more than the 0.3 per cent increase in 2019.
ERA Realty head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said: "The performance of the HDB resale prices and transaction volume illustrates that the adverse impact of Covid-19 and economic recession is like water off a duck's back."
HDB flash estimates released earlier showed that resale prices rose 2.9 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year, marking the biggest quarterly increase in more than nine years. For the whole year, resale prices rose 4.8 per cent.
Said Mr Mak: "The resale transactions of HDB flats that recently completed the five-year minimum occupation period continue to exert their influence on the HDB price index. These newer flats are usually sold at higher prices than older flats in the same vicinity."
Some of the locations with new resale flats that were transacted at higher prices are in Dawson, Punggol and Boon Tiong Road, he said.
Meanwhile, SRX estimated that monthly sales hit 2,489 units last month. This was 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.
The string of strong monthly sales took the total resale flat volume to 23,427 units for the whole of last year, and this is 4.3 per cent higher than in 2019.
Mr Mak said the pandemic may have fuelled that expansion of the HDB resale market.
"Before Covid-19... 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. As a result, some potential HDB BTO applicants are turning to the resale market for their home purchases."
Mr Mak added that December is also usually a lull period in the property market, but the travel restrictions that kept many at home meant that the HDB resale market continued to operate as normal.
OrangeTee & Tie head of research and consultancy Christine Sun said 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 HDB market conditions over the past two years".
PropNex head of research and content Wong Siew Ying said: "Our market observations suggest that buying interest remains keen, and the rebound in sales in recent months has prompted some sellers to increase their asking price.
"Stiff competition for choice flats also saw buyers offering a higher price in order to secure the unit."
Areas like 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 unit at Natura Loft in Bishan.
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 by a further 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 this year, she said.