Fewer Housing Board resale flats were sold in the first three months of this year compared with the previous quarter - a drop of 22.3 per cent.
There were 4,458 resale transactions in the January-March quarter, down from 5,738 in the fourth quarter of last year, according to public housing data released by the HDB yesterday.
The number of HDB resale flats transacted in the first quarter also fell 1.6 per cent from a year ago.
Key executive officer of real estate agency ERA Realty Eugene Lim cited two reasons for the drop.
"There is the seasonal lull due to Chinese New Year festivities, but another reason is that the HDB resale portal opened in January this year," he said.
"There were some initial teething issues as agents, buyers and sellers took time to get used to the new system which slowed things down a little. But as the system stabilises, we should see higher transaction volumes heading into the second quarter."
The drop in the number of resale flats sold was accompanied by a 0.8 per cent dip in resale prices, confirming HDB estimates reported earlier this month. This marks the sixth consecutive quarter of decline.
It is also the steepest fall since the first quarter of 2015 and an acceleration from the 0.2 per cent price dip in the final quarter of last year.
PropNex Realty chief executive Ismail Gafoor attributed the decline to a few key groups of sellers: second-timers who are letting go of their flats, with the completion of their Build-to-Order (BTO) units; new executive condominium upgraders who have received the keys to their new homes; and those who are upgrading to private properties this year. But Mr Ismail believes the dip will end soon.
"With the positive sentiment in the residential market, as well as the huge number of en bloc sales in 2017 and 2018, we predict a greater demand for HDB resale properties, with some en bloc owners considering bigger-sized resale flats in the second half of the year," he said.
"There is a likelihood that HDB prices may well experience a muted growth of up to 1 per cent in 2018."
Those eyeing resale flats can expect to pay the most for four-room flats in the central district and five-room flats in Toa Payoh. Both had a median price of $850,000, according to first-quarter resale data.
These were followed by five-room units in Bishan and Bukit Merah, with median prices of $769,000 and $760,000 respectively. Three-room flats in Jurong West, Bukit Batok and Woodlands were the cheapest, with median prices of $248,000, $268,000 and $270,900 respectively.
Meanwhile, the number of HDB flats rented out rose as the number of approved applications went up by 3.9 per cent, from 11,279 cases in the final quarter of last year to 11,721 cases in the first quarter. This was 17.4 per cent up from a year ago.
Figures at the end of last month show that there are currently 54,329 HDB flats being rented out, up 1.1 per cent from the previous quarter.
The highest rents were spread among four-room, five-room and executive flats in Bukit Merah, Queenstown, Jurong East and Serangoon.
The most affordable flats were two-room flats in Queenstown and three-room units in Woodlands, Bukit Panjang and Yishun.
HDB will offer 3,900 BTO flats in Sengkang, Tampines, Toa Payoh and Yishun as part of the 17,000 BTO flats up for sale this year.
Alongside the BTO exercise next month, there will be a concurrent Sale of Balance Flats exercise.
Adapted from The Straits Times, 28 Apr 2018.