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HDB resale price index inches up for first time in 9 quarters; experts say this could mark recovery

30 Jul, 2018

There was an uptick in the resale price index for the first time in nine quarters, based on public housing data released by the Housing Board on Friday (July 27).

It was also revealed that more HDB resale flats were sold in the second quarter of this year.

The number of transactions rose 33.3 per cent from the previous quarter, from 4,458 to 5,941, while the resale price index rose slightly by 0.1 per cent.

Experts said this could mean the bottoming of the resale market since prices reached a peak in the second quarter of 2013.

They added that the recently introduced cooling measures may also deter HDB flat owners from upgrading to private residential property, which may impact the HDB resale market.

Earlier this month (July), higher stamp duties were introduced, with Singaporeans and permanent residents having to pay 5 percentage points more for second and successive properties. The proportion of a property’s value that a buyer could borrow, known as the loan-to-value (LTV) limit,was also slashed by 5 percentage points.

Calling the increase in the resale price index a marginal improvement, ZACD Group executive director Nicholas Mak said: “The increase in the price index is so minimal that further observation in the next few months is needed to determine if this is truly the start of a market recovery.”

He added: “If the recovery of the HDB resale price index is sustainable, the rate of growth for the entire year will likely be gradual and almost flat, ranging from -0.3 per cent to +1.5 per cent year on year.”

OrangeTee & Tie head of research and consultancy Christine Sun said the volume of transactions could be sustained as the cooling measures may deter potential HDB upgraders from buying a condominium, and they would instead turn to the HDB resale market.

She added: “The increased cash or Central Provident Fund outlay, as a result of the stricter LTV limit, could be hefty for HDB upgraders who tend to be more price-sensitive.”

Resale flats that fetched some of the highest median prices were in the central district, Toa Payoh and Queenstown.

Four-room flats in the central district had a median price of $870,000. Five-room flats in Toa Payoh saw a median price of $845,000, while those in Queenstown were at $838,000.

Three-room flats in Bukit Batok and Jurong West were the cheapest, with median prices of $264,000 and $260,000 respectively.

Meanwhile, HDB also noted a 2.6 per cent increase in the number of approved rental applications in the second quarter of this year from the first quarter.

There were 12,024 approved applications to rent out HDB flats in the second quarter of this year, up from 11,721 in the previous quarter.

The 12,024 approved applications were an increase of 10 per cent from the 10,929 in the second quarter of 2017.

As of June 30, there were 54,896 HDB flats being rented out. This was a 1 per cent increase over the first quarter of the year, when there were 54,329 units rented out.

Flats in Queenstown, Bukit Merah and the central district were among the priciest to rent.

In Queenstown, five-room flats logged a median rent of $2,800, while similar units in Bukit Merah were at $2,750.

Four-room flats in the central district also had a median rent of $2,750.

Queenstown, however, also had flats that were cheapest to rent, with two-room units going for a median rent of $1,400. This was the same median price seen in three-room flats in Woodlands.

Two-room units in Bukit Merah, and three-room flats in Bukit Panjang and Yishun were the next most affordable at $1,500.

In the first half of the year, HDB offered 11,373 flats for sale, including 7,634 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats.

In August, HDB will offer another 4,300 BTO flats in Punggol and Yishun. A re-offer of balance flats exercise will also take place.

The public can visit the HDB InfoWEB for more information on the BTO flats.

Adapted from The Straits Times, 27 July 2018.