More HDB resale flats sold in Q3 as prices remain mostly flat

Analysts attribute the increase in sales of HDB resale flats in the third quarter to buyers coming back to the market, drawn by the soft resale prices, and former owners of properties sold in collective sales buying HDB flats as replacement homes.
Analysts attribute the increase in sales of HDB resale flats in the third quarter to buyers coming back to the market, drawn by the soft resale prices, and former owners of properties sold in collective sales buying HDB flats as replacement homes.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

The HDB resale price index fell by about 0.1 per cent in the third quarter of this year, but while it undid a rise in the previous quarter, the minuscule change showed the resale market to be stable, said analysts.

Housing Board figures released yesterday showed that the resale price index dipped to 131.6 from 131.7. Analysts expect prices to stay flat.

The index tracks the overall price movement of the HDB market, with the first quarter of 2009 as the base period of the index at 100.

Orange Tee & Tie's head of research and consultancy Christine Sun said prices are holding steady as sellers are not likely to accept offers below their asking price. "They probably are not rushing to offload their units at lower prices since the economy and job market are stable."

While resale prices remained mostly flat, the number of flats sold rose by 18.9 per cent in the third quarter to 7,063 - the highest since the third quarter of 2010. This was a 21.6 per cent rise compared with the same period last year.

Analysts attributed the increase to buyers coming back to the market, attracted by the soft resale prices, and former owners of properties sold in collective sales buying HDB flats as replacement homes.

PropNex Realty chief executive officer Ismail Gafoor said there was demand for five-room and executive flats from these owners, who like the size and affordability.

ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim said a slew of changes made by the Government in August should inject some activity into the HDB resale market and help prop up prices, especially for older flats.

It had announced a range of housing initiatives, from plans to systematically upgrade older HDB flats to extending a scheme to let elderly owners sell part of their leases back to the Government for income, to all types of flats.

"However, as the implementation details are still a work in progress, we can expect HDB resale prices to remain flat in the short term," added Mr Lim.

Huttons Asia research head Lee Sze Teck noted that it had been five years since resale prices peaked in the second quarter of 2013, "with no light at the end of the tunnel for the HDB resale market" because of the healthy supply of new flats.

 

He said that while the Government has tapered off the supply of Build-To-Order (BTO) flats, there is still a sizeable number of them.

"With demand still largely constrained to permanent residents, singles and second-timers, the resale market is unlikely to pick up any time (soon)," said Mr Lee.

But ZACD Group executive director Nicholas Mak said: "If the resale volume continues to remain robust in the next few quarters, it would slow down or even reverse the decline in the HDB resale price index."

Yesterday, the HDB also said it would offer about 3,800 BTO flats in Sembawang, Sengkang, Tampines, Tengah and Yishun next month.

BTO flats in Sembawang, Seng-kang and Yishun will have a shorter waiting time of 21/2 years, instead of the typical three to four.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 27, 2018, with the headline 'More HDB resale flats sold in Q3 as prices remain mostly flat'. Print Edition | Subscribe