Fewer HDB resale flats sold in Q1; prices down 0.3%

In line with flash estimates earlier this month, resale prices of HDB flats fell by 0.3 per cent on a quarterly basis - the third straight quarter of decline.
In line with flash estimates earlier this month, resale prices of HDB flats fell by 0.3 per cent on a quarterly basis - the third straight quarter of decline. PHOTO: ST FILE

Fewer Housing Board flats changed hands in the first three months of this year compared with the last quarter of last year, with the number of transactions falling 14.2 per cent to 4,835.

But compared with the same period at the start of last year, the number of transactions was still 8.5 per cent higher, according to figures released by the HDB yesterday.

In line with flash estimates earlier this month, resale prices of HDB flats fell by 0.3 per cent on a quarterly basis - the third straight quarter of decline.

The lull for the first quarter was expected, given the festive Chinese New Year period, and observers expect resale volume to increase and prices to stay stable or increase slightly in the months ahead.

ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim said he expects resale volume this year to increase by 5 per cent, from 23,099 flats last year to more than 24,000 this year.

PropNex Realty chief executive Ismail Gafoor said "demand will be invigorated" over the next nine months as the HDB is offering only 15,000 new flats this year, the lowest number since 2015.

More resale flats may also be sold at higher prices, said OrangeTee & Tie research head Christine Sun, who noted that another 3,500 flats under the premium but now-defunct Design, Build and Sell Scheme, as well as almost 4,000 flats in popular mature estates like Bukit Merah, Queenstown and Ang Mo Kio, could go on the market this year.

Last year, 71 flats sold for $1 million and above each, including four standard four-room units in Tiong Bahru.

"The higher price tags may have an uplifting effect on the overall price index," said Ms Sun, who anticipates upcoming changes next month that may allow buyers to use more of their Central Provident Fund monies to buy older flats to "increase the attractiveness of and spur demand for some older flats".

But prices are likely to remain stable overall, as a whopping 30,000 HDB flats will reach their minimum occupation period this year and exert downward pressure on prices.

Mr Lim estimated a conservative uptick of up to 1 per cent for the whole year. "While prices may be very stable now, and demand is likely to increase this year, buyers on the whole remain conservative because of factors like rising housing loan interest rates and concern over depleting leases," he said.

As for the HDB rental market, the number of approved applications to rent out HDB flats rose by 2.6 per cent, from 11,479 cases in the fourth quarter of last year to 11,775 cases in the first three months of this year.

Compared with the first three months of last year, the number of approved applications was 0.5 per cent higher.

As of March 31 this year, there were 57,764 HDB flats that had been rented out - an increase of 1.8 per cent over the 56,742 units in the fourth quarter of last year.

Ms Sun said she expects rental volume to pick up in the months ahead, as the peak rental season is usually in the second and third quarters of the year.

"The expansion of the two integrated resorts here will continue to enhance Singapore's vibrancy and tourism appeal globally," she said. "The rental market is poised to benefit as over 5,000 jobs may be created and around a third of these jobs are expected to be filled by non-locals."

Next month, the HDB will offer about 3,400 Build-To-Order flats in Kallang, Whampoa, Tengah and Woodlands. There will also be a concurrent Sale of Balance Flats exercise.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2019, with the headline 'Fewer HDB resale flats sold in Q1; prices down 0.3%'. Print Edition | Subscribe