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    Aug 08, 2014

    HDB resale prices fall for 6th straight month

    PRICES of Housing Board flats fell for the sixth consecutive month last month and to its lowest level since February 2012, latest data from the Singapore Real Estate Exchange showed.

    Though slightly more flats were sold, experts attributed this to the return of buyers and sellers after the usually quiet June holiday season.

    The resale price index fell 0.9 per cent from June, bringing HDB resale flat prices down 4 per cent since the start of the year.

    Weakening prices hit most of the market, with three-, four- and five-room flat prices dipping 1 per cent, 1.8 per cent and 0.4 per cent respectively.

    Only executive flats were spared, with prices up by about 0.1 per cent.

    In all, the index is 6.7 per cent lower than July last year, with analysts saying that the slide was expected, due to the continued effects of cooling measures such as home loan curbs and a steady supply of new Build-to-Order flats.

    "Demand and prices are expected to stabilise or pick up slightly in around the second half of this year, due to buyers finding resale flat prices increasingly 'reasonable'," said R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng.

    Already, last month's resale volumes rose slightly, but experts remained cautious about a turnaround.

    There were 1,341 flats sold last month, up from 1,315 in June. But this was still 10.2 per cent lower than the 1,494 units that changed hands in July last year.

    The recovery may simply be thanks to buyers and sellers returning to the market after the end of the school holidays and the World Cup in June, said SLP International Property Consultants head of research Nicholas Mak.

    He said the rise in volume is not expected to continue into this month, as it is the Hungry Ghost month, considered an inauspicious time for buying a house.

    But, in the longer term, buyers may be attracted back into the market by low prices, said experts.

    Mr Ong expects prices to fall by no more than 7 per cent for the full year. Other estimates range from 4 to 8 per cent.

    Property agents said some buyers have been returning, but not in large numbers.

    Dennis Wee Realty agent Judy Tay said: "Some are those who have wanted to buy for a long time, but are coming in now that prices are low."

    But, with prices low and buyers still scarce, some prospective sellers might choose to rent out their units instead, added experts.

    An estimated 1,601 HDB flats were rented last month, up from June's 1,574 units, but flat compared to a year before.

    Rents were down, with the rental index falling 1.5 per cent to a three-year low. The median monthly rent was $2,300.

    With foreign-labour curbs reining in demand, and supply rising as upgraders move into their newly completed units, rents are likely to stay low, said OrangeTee head of research Christine Li.