SINGAPORE - Demand for Housing Board resale flats remained strong in the third quarter of 2019, buoyed by recent policies that make it easier for buyers to get loans and grants.
There were 6,264 resale transactions between July and September, down by just 12 compared to the second quarter which saw 6,276 cases, said the HDB on Friday (Oct 25).
The data, which covers the Hungry Ghost month, during which buying sentiment is usually more muted, comes after a strong surge in resale transactions in the previous quarter. Then, the numbers were up 29.8 per cent from the 4,835 cases in the first quarter.
The number of resale transactions in the third quarter was 11.3 per cent lower than that during the same period last year. However, it is the second highest Q3 transaction in the last seven years.
Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie, said: "This sustained level of demand was buoyed by the generous incentives and slew of policy initiatives dished out by the Government."
Last month, new policy measures to ensure affordable and accessible housing to all Singaporeans were announced. These include enhancements of housing grants for first-time buyers and raising the income ceiling for those wanting to buy HDB flats. They come on top of measures announced in the second quarter, which allow buyers to have greater flexibility in using their Central Provident Fund monies as well as bigger housing loans.
"The cumulative effect of these policy changes is likely to sustain interest or even stimulate new demand for HDB flats in the long term. Despite a synchronised slowdown in many world economies, demand for resale transactions has remained surprisingly resilient," Ms Sun added.
The latest HDB data also showed that the prices of resale flats rose slightly, by 0.1 per cent, compared to the second quarter, snapping a streak of four consecutive quarterly declines.
"It remains premature to conclude if prices have bottomed out the last quarter, as recent policy changes may have helped to stabilise the market," Ms Sun said.
In all, 17,375 resale flats have been sold in the first three quarters of this year, almost on a par with the 17,462 units sold over the same period last year.
Ms Sun expects between 22,000 and 24,000 transactions to be made in the whole year.
"The overall price index may continue to stabilise in the last quarter, after having dipped 0.4 per cent in the first three quarters. We anticipate prices to trend between -1 and 0 per cent for the whole year," she said.
The Board also approved 12,006 applications to rent out flats, 2.7 per cent lower than the 12,335 green-lit in the previous quarter.
But this was 7 per cent higher than that approved during the same period last year.
As of Sept 30, there were a total of 56,474 flats being rented out, an increase of 1.3 per cent over the second quarter of this year.
The HDB also said on Friday that it would be offering about 4,500 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats in Ang Mo Kio, Tampines and Tengah in November this year. In February 2020, it will offer 3,000 BTO flats in Sembawang and Toa Payoh.
More details are available on the HDB InfoWEB.