Housing Board resale prices stayed flat last month in confirmation of a stabilising market, with experts expecting sluggish conditions to continue into the year.
SRX Property flash figures released yesterday showed HDB resale prices staying unchanged from November to December, though fewer flats changed hands in the traditionally quiet year-end season. December's price changes were marginal across different flat types and estates. Prices rose 0.3 and 0.1 per cent respectively for three- and four-room flats, and fell 0.4 per cent for both five-roomers and executive flats.
Across mature estates, prices rose 0.2 per cent. In non-mature estates, they fell 0.2 per cent.
The full-year fall in SRX's resale price index was 1.3 per cent, comparable with the HDB's official flash estimate - released on Monday - of a 1.5 per cent full-year fall.
According to SRX, non-mature estates contributed more to the fall. Prices of flats there fell 1.6 per cent year on year, compared with 0.9 per cent in mature estates.
This new price uptick needs to have another quarter of confirmation.
MR ONG KAH SENG, R'ST Research director. If this does not happen, he expects "flattish, stable resale flat prices" this year
Experts said the latest figures confirmed the picture of a resale market that has been brought gently down to a new stable level. ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim said: "It is evident that the market has experienced a soft landing."
The SRX resale index fluctuated marginally last year, with just two months in which prices changed by more than half a percentage point. Yet while official figures showed a 0.2 per cent rise in the last quarter of 2015, experts are cautious about predicting a bottoming-out.
"This new price uptick needs to have another quarter of confirmation," said R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng. If this does not happen, he expects "flattish, stable resale flat prices" this year.
Mr Lim expects prices to continue their gradual decline this year, due to the slowing economy and rising interest rates.
With December being a traditionally slow month for transactions, resale volume fell 4.3 per cent with 1,404 flats changing hands, down from 1,467 units in November.
This was still up 8.4 per cent from a year earlier, suggesting that more buyers are turning to the resale market. Mr Lim added: "This could possibly be due to its increased price stability."
This year, 18,000 new build-to-order (BTO) flats are set to be launched, up from last year's 15,000.
But this may not shift much demand away from the resale market, according to Mr Ong.
"The profiles of buyers for resale flats and BTO flats are very different," he said. "Those who purchase a resale flat usually cannot afford to wait."