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    Jan 09, 2015

    Resale prices: Bigger fall for non-mature estates

    RESALE prices in non-mature Housing Board estates were hit harder in last year's cooling market, falling more than twice as hard as those of flats in mature estates.

    Flat prices in non-mature estates such as Punggol and Sengkang fell 8.3 per cent over the year compared with a 3.1 per cent fall in mature estates like Queenstown and Bishan.

    This made for an overall fall of 6.1 per cent in HDB resale prices last year, according to SRX Property flash figures yesterday.

    But more flats changed hands, with 15,914 deals last year, up from a low of 14,220 in 2013.

    Experts are expecting transaction volume to stabilise or even pick up this year, amid another year of gradual price falls.

    Resale prices edged down 0.4 per cent last month for the 11th straight month, reaching a 41-month low.

    This was driven by four- and five-room flats, with prices falling 0.7 and 0.3 per cent respectively.

    Three-room prices stayed flat while executive flat prices were up 1.8 per cent.

    Non-mature estates performed worse, according to SRX Property's new price sub-indices.

    Last month, prices fell 0.9 per cent in non-mature estates but rose 0.2 per cent in mature ones.

    Experts said it was unsurprising that flats in mature estates were better able to weather the sluggish market conditions.

    "In a market with falling prices, the focus is back on market fundamentals... Buyers are willing to pay for flats with good

    location attributes," said OrangeTee director of research Christine Li.

    A good location is why housewife Eileen Teo, 50, is not worried about selling her five-room flat in Serangoon, a mature estate.

    "People are interested," she added. Her flat has been up for sale for only a week or so, but she has already received inquiries.

    During the traditionally slow end-of-year period, 1,295 flats changed hands last month, down from 1,350 in November.

    "We could possibly expect similar transaction levels for this month and next month, and the pace may pick up only from March, after the Chinese New Year festivities," said ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim.

    Although low due to seasonal factors, last month's transaction figures were still higher than the 1,012 deals in December 2013.

    As prices continue to slide this year, more buyers are likely to return, said experts.

    "Most buyers will be 'opportunity buyers' who will buy a flat after a long wait," said R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng.

    ERA Realty and OrangeTee expect resale prices to fall by 5 to 8 per cent for the whole of this year.

    Mr Ong expects prices to fall 4 per cent in the first half of this year, then stagnate if cooling measures are not relaxed.