SINGAPORE - Housing Board resale prices fell by 0.3 per cent in March compared with February amid the coronavirus outbreak.
But more flats changed hands in March, a 16.8 per cent jump from February, according to figures released by real estate portal SRX on Thursday (April 9).
In all, 1,948 HDB resale flats were sold in March. The figure reversed the 13.1 per cent decrease in February from the preceding month.
The figure was also 17.6 per cent higher than the number of units sold in March last year.
Compared with March last year, prices were 0.7 per cent higher in March.
ERA Realty head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said the market performed better than expected and that the increase in the number of resold flats could be an unexpected effect of the coronavirus outbreak.
"Just as the pandemic caused some people to rush to the supermarkets to stock up on basic and essential goods, some homebuyers may prefer to buy HDB flats instead of private housing as HDB flats are the most basic and affordable form of housing in Singapore.
"People could be more confident about paying mortgage on HDB flats than private housing."
He added that the circuit breaker period imposed by the Government is expected to soften the upwards trajectory of resale volume in April.
The degree of this contraction will also depend on the severity of the economic fallout caused by the pandemic, he said.
Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at Orange Tee and Tie, said sales volume probably continued to rise in March because the transactions were completed or near completion before the Covid-19 outbreak worsened.
"We may expect sales volume to dip in the coming months as social distancing measures were being put in place over the past weeks and viewings were discontinued as a result of current circuit breaker measures," she said.
She added: "(But) sales may pick up when the measures are lifted and house viewings resume."
Meanwhile, the prices of flats in non-mature estates rose by 2 per cent, while flats in mature estates fell by 1.2 per cent, compared with the same month in 2019.
The most expensive resale flat last month was a five-room unit at The Pinnacle@Duxton that sold for $1.2 million. An executive unit in Toh Guan Road went for $818,000, the highest price in a non-mature estate.
There were five HDB resale flats that transacted for at least $1 million each in March.
Resale flat buyers in March generally paid the estimated value of their HDB units. The overall median transaction over X-value (TOX) was zero in March, a decrease of $2,000 compared with February.
TOX measures how much a buyer is overpaying (positive value) or underpaying (negative value) for a property based on SRX's computer-generated market value. The data includes only districts with more than 10 resale transactions.
Flats in Bukit Merah recorded the highest median TOX, at positive $7,500; followed by flats in Jurong East, at positive $6,000.
Meanwhile, flats in Bishan recorded the lowest median TOX, at negative $21,500; followed by flats in Clementi, at negative $13,500.
An estimated 7,691 flats will become eligible to join the HDB resale market in the next three months, based on SRX data, as these units approach their respective official five-year minimum occupation period.