HDB resale flat transactions up for third year in a row

Resale volume for Housing Board flats rose for a third year in a row - growing 6.1 per cent for the whole of 2017 - as buyers turned to the resale market once more amid easing prices.

There were 22,077 transactions last year, up from 20,813 in 2016, 19,306 in 2015 and 17,318 in 2014 - a record low - according to an HDB statement yesterday.

This is despite the number of resale transactions falling 1.2 per cent to 5,738 cases in the last quarter of last year, compared with the previous three months' figure of 5,808.

ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim said the Re-Offer of Balance Flats scheme launched last August, as well as a shorter waiting time for some new Build-To-Order flats, might have diverted demand away from the resale market.

Compared to the last quarter of 2016, however, resale volume in the same period last year was 14.5 per cent higher. Mr Lim said: "Resale flats remain the only way for buyers to pick a flat in a location of choice."

And with the HDB halving the processing time for resale transactions to eight weeks, more flats can be expected to change hands, he said. He expects about 22,000 to 24,000 transactions this year.

Resale prices last year also fell more sharply, falling 1.5 per cent, compared to 0.1 per cent in the year before. But ZACD Group executive director Nicholas Mak said a 1.5 per cent decline spread over four quarters is a slow one, and as the resale market has been quite flat, any depression is more keenly felt.

And due to the large number of collective sales in HUDC estates last year, this year could see more owners finding replacement homes in mature estates. "2018 could be the year where HDB prices stop falling."

PropNex Realty chief executive Ismail Gafoor was more bullish about the market, and said HDB prices should experience a positive growth of 1 per cent to 2 per cent this year.

There was also a 5.6 per cent increase in the number of approved rental applications in the fourth quarter of last year, with 11,279 approved applications, compared to the same period in 2016.

Next month, the HDB will launch its first Build-To-Order exercise for the year, with 3,600 flats on offer in Choa Chu Kang, Geylang, Tampines and Woodlands.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 27, 2018, with the headline 'HDB resale flat transactions up for third year in a row'. Print Edition | Subscribe