HDB resale volume stays flat in May, but prices inch up 0.2%

Experts say buyers enticed by price stability, trend expected to continue in months ahead

Resale prices for Housing Board flats crept up slightly by 0.2 per cent last month, while the number of transactions stayed more or less constant, continuing the market's stabilising trend.

According to flash figures from SRX Property released yesterday, the price increase was led by the prices of three-room and five-room flats, both of which rose by 0.7 per cent. Prices of executive flats inched up by 0.4 per cent, while those of four-room flats dipped by 0.7 per cent.

Property experts said the marginal price movements over the past year affirm that the HDB resale market is stabilising, and will continue to do so in the months ahead.

R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng said: "HDB resale flat prices are on a solid, stable footing, so it was well within expectations that a marginal dip in prices in March and April saw a small rebound in May."

Prices in March and April saw dips of 0.1 per cent each month.

Mr Ong said: "It also shows that the property cooling measures are indeed working in bringing resale flat prices onto a soft landing."

Noting that buyers and sellers will calibrate their price expectations accordingly, ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim said: "This trend is expected to continue in the coming months."

While overall HDB resale prices have largely stayed flat in the past year, they have dropped 10.9 per cent since peaking in April 2013.

The number of flats that switched hands went virtually unchanged last month, after a 10.3 per cent spike in April. There were 1,826 resale units, comparable with the 1,828 units transacted in April.

Still, this volume is 15.9 per cent higher than the 1,575 units resold in May last year.

Mr Lim said that some buyers could have been enticed by the price stability in recent months.

"Those in need of a flat would have bought one off the resale market as prices are evidently not going to fall significantly anymore," he added.

Compared with the peak of 3,649 units in May 2010, however, resale volume last month was still down by about half.

Mr Ong said that the slight price rebound last month amid a flat resale volume indicates that transactions are still underpinned by opportunistic purchases - where buyers jump in only because prices are now reasonable.

He added: "This means that the price increase last month wasn't driven by increased demand.

"Instead, increased prices seem to face resistance from buyers, so the resale volume in May was flat compared with in April, when sellers raised prices marginally."

Resale flats sold last month also went for a median $1,000 under their market value, or X-value.

This derives from SRX Property's computer-generated appraisal of home market values, which considers factors such as floor level and recent resale prices in the vicinity.

"The small median (X-value) of negative $1,000 underscores the observation that the HDB resale market is stable," said Mr Lim.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2016, with the headline HDB resale volume stays flat in May, but prices inch up 0.2%. Subscribe