HDB flat resale prices rose for 20th straight month in February, volume fell by 22%

Resale prices were up 12 per cent in February compared with the same period last year. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - The prices of Housing Board resale flats edged up for the 20th straight month in February, while the number of flats sold fell on the back of property cooling measures introduced in December.

Last month, HDB resale flat prices rose by 0.6 per cent compared with January's 1.1 per cent, according to flash data from real estate portals 99.co and SRX on Thursday (March 10).

Compared with February last year, prices were up by 12 per cent, data showed.

Price hikes were seen in both mature and non-mature estates, with prices of five-room units climbing the most at 1.4 per cent. The prices of three-room units fell by 0.1 per cent.

Meanwhile, resale volume dipped by 22 per cent, with an estimated 1,904 units changing hands last month, down from 2,442 units the month before.

In February, 29 HDB resale flats transacted for at least $1 million each, up from 27 in January.

Of these, seven were in the central area, four in the Queenstown area, and three each in Kallang/Whampoa, Bishan, Clementi and Toa Payoh.

The 29 million-dollar flats make up 1.5 per cent of last month's total resale transactions.

The most expensive resale flat last month was a five-room unit at Pinnacle @ Duxton in Cantonment Road that sold for $1,308,000.

Property analysts noted that the dip in HDB resale transactions could be due to slower market activity over the Chinese New Year festive period and viewing restrictions amid a rise in Covid-19 cases here.

PropNex Realty head of research and content Wong Siew Ying said this was the first time since last May that the monthly HDB resale volume fell below the 2,000-unit mark.

Ms Christine Sun, senior vice-president of research and analytics at real estate firm OrangeTee & Tie, noted that last month's resale volume was still higher than February sales of previous years, such as from 2017 to 2020.

Resale transactions declined by 12.1 per cent compared with February last year.

"The trend indicates that last month's sales volume is still considered healthy," she said. "Last year's strong demand may not be sustained this year, especially since prices of flats have been climbing."

Ms Wong said that some flat owners may also prefer to wait and observe the impact of the cooling measures on the overall property market before transacting.

"There may also be a limited supply of resale flats available for sale as owners watch and wait," she added.

The property cooling measures that were introduced in December had tightened the total debt servicing ratio for borrowers from 60 per cent to 55 per cent. Loan-to-value limits for HDB housing loans have also been reduced from 90 per cent to 85 per cent to cool the property market and encourage greater financial prudence.

The additional buyer's stamp duty rates were also raised, although levies for Singaporeans buying their first residential property remain at zero.

HDB's February Build-to-Order exercise, which comprised 3,953 new flats across six projects in Geylang, Kallang/Whampoa, Tengah and Yishun, could have encouraged some families to apply for those instead of buying a resale flat, Ms Wong said.

"Our market observations suggest that the HDB resale market sentiment remains generally positive and asking prices are still relatively firm so far," she added.

Huttons Asia chief executive Mark Yip said the tight labour situation in the construction industry may be resolved soon as Singapore moves to streamline the entry requirements for new work permit holders in the sector from March 13.

He added: "This will make it easier to bring in new workers for the construction industry and accelerate the completion of homes, alleviating the supply-demand imbalance in the market."

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