Rentals in both the private property market and for Housing Board flats registered declines last month, according to flash estimates from SRX Property.
Private apartment rents declined in March, after three straight months of gains, even amid a pick-up in the number of units leased out.
Rents for non-landed private homes fell by 0.2 per cent against the previous month. The index was dragged down by homes in the core central region, which refers to prime areas such as Orchard Road, where rents lost 0.4 per cent.
The index was also affected by rents in the suburbs or outside the central region, where rents slipped by 0.5 per cent.
But some landlords can still rest assured, with rents in the non-core central region - which includes areas such as Tanjong Rhu - posting a rise of 0.3 per cent.
However, compared with the previous year, rents have still risen by 0.2 per cent overall.
Meanwhile, the first three months of this year saw a quarter-on-quarter rise in rents of 1 per cent, but landlords are still taking 18.9 per cent less in rent than at the market's peak in January 2013.
The dip in rents came even as the rental volume stood at about 4,580 units last month - a 28.3 per cent improvement on February, but 4.4 per cent lower than the volume a year ago.
Rents for HDB flats fell by 0.8 per cent last month from February.
Compared with a year ago, rents in March were down by 2.4 per cent. Rents for that month were also down 15.6 per cent compared with the peak in August 2013.
Even so, HDB rental volume was up 45.3 per cent last month over February, with an estimated 2,036 flats rented compared with 1,401 units in the month before.
The jump in rental volume could be attributed to a rise in transactions following a seasonal dip, said Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at real estate agency OrangeTee & Tie.
"Leasing activity usually picks up after the Chinese New Year festivities, which are traditionally a lull period for all property transactions," she said.
However, rental volume in March fell by 3.6 per cent from a year ago.
Estimates showed that rents for the first quarter of the year dropped 0.7 per cent from the fourth quarter of last year.
Rentals for three-, four-and five-room HDB flats fell last month by 0.7 per cent, 1.4 per cent and 0.9 per cent, respectively, from the previous month.
Rentals for HDB executive units rose by 2.5 per cent.
For mature estates, HDB rents fell 1.1 per cent in March from February. Compared with a year ago, March rents dipped 2 per cent.
As for non-mature estates, March rents slipped 0.5 per cent month-on-month. Year-on-year, rents fell 2.8 per cent.
The highest median monthly rent for HDB flats last month was $3,400 for five-room flats in the central area.
This was followed by $3,000 for four-room flats, also in the central area, and $2,950 for five-room flats in Bukit Merah.
For the remainder of this year, HDB rents are expected to stabilise, said Ms Sun.
"Foreign workforce numbers have stabilised from 2016 to 2017, and so the numbers are expected to remain stable for the rest of the year," she added.
Adapted from: The Staits Times, 12 Apr 2018