Resale HDB flat prices down 0.1%

March saw a very slight 0.1 per cent fall in prices for the resale HDB flat market, mainly for 3-room and 4-room flats. This is following a 0.2 per cent rise in February and a year of stagnant prices.

Analysts are not expecting resale flat prices to go anywhere anytime soon as the slowing economy and continued property cooling curbs continue. Buyers seem to be favouring slightly smaller 4-room flats over 5-room units and any spike in the price index could be occasional and non-indicative of the overall market outlook.

21c0a7bf81e440299d0bd4b956642daaResale flats in mature estates have always been  popular with buyers, but even this market segment has been hampered by global and local uncertainties. There is good news however. Sales volume of resale HDB flats have risen in March despite the fall in prices. There were 451 more units sold in March than the 1,200 in February. The launch of new BTO (build-to-order) flats in February may have also taken some attention away from the resale market, though the latter will always find a place in the consumers’ radar as some buyers may not be willing or able to wait for new flats to be built or they may prefer living in locations other than those in which new flats are being launched or built.

The A-Bi-Cs of mature HDB estates

Bishan and Bidadari. Both mature estates and both in popular demand. The only difference might be that Bishan is more established while Bidadari is a new foundling in the already-mature estate of Toa Payoh.

The recent buzz around the centralised Bidadari estate has prompted many to call it the “next Bishan”. How exactly do these 2 estates compare?

BidadariPhoto credit: HDB

As far as history goes, Bishan was one of the first model HDB towns 30 years back. And now Bidadari, which means “angel” or “fairy” in Malay, seems to be taking its place as the next big thing. Both B-word towns have good city-fringe locations and are built on land which were once cemeteries. Bidadari will have the luck of having Bishan run its course with the stigma of living on cemetery land. Buyers of today are no longer as affected by this fact.

Even though property agents and analysts say they are unsure how resale prices and infrastructure in this new estate will pan out, the initial response is very positive. Both its November 2015 and February 2016 launches were about 23 times oversubscribed despite the more expensive sales tags. Its proximity to the city centre plus the 3 MRT stations (Potong Pasir, Bartley and Woodleigh) serving it, Bishan makes up for the difference only by its direct access to its own shopping mall, park and amenities such as sports facilities, library, community centre, offices and business facilities. The Bishan MRT station is also an interchange station between the North-South and Circle MRT lines.

Bishan HDB estatePhoto credit: HDB

Resale HDB flats in Bishan can go up to $730,000 for a 5-room flat. While the new BTO flats in Bidadari were launched at prices between $544,000 and $625,000, they look set to reach possibly higher resale prices once they are available in the resale market.

 

How deep is the property market well?

Property prices in Singapore have been falling since 2014, 10 consecutive quarters to be exact. In the first quarter of this year, HDB flat prices have stabilised at 0.1 per cent while private property prices have dipped 0.7 per cent. In 2015, HDB flat and private property prices fell an average of 0.4 and 0.9 per cent respectively.

Kingsford WaterbayPhoto: Kingsford Waterbay condominium 

HDB flat prices have begun to stabilise of late, though some property analysts are still expecting a further drop in the second half of the year as 25,000 new BTO flats reach completion this year. A good 30 per cent of these new-flat buyers are upgraders and home owners, not investors, which means they will be looking to sell their existing HDB flat in order to finance their new flat. This will bring a new slew of units into the resale HDB flat market. Though the demand for resale flats has not waned much, the rise in supply may put the ball in the buyers’ court.

 Photo: Clementi Gateway BTO flats

Similarly in the private property and EC (executive condominium) market, buyers will need to time their upgrading manoeuvre in order to manage cash flow, thus some may be in a rush to let go of their existing unit which could put further pressure on the market which will be seeing 21,906 new private condominium and 4,561 EC units enter its midst this year. How will the property sector perform in this crucial second quarter of 2016?

Fewer resale flats entering HDB market

A good number of new HDB flats have reached or will soon reach the end of the minimum occupation period (MOP), and despite the expected slew of relatively new resale HDB flats entering the market, the situation is contrary.

CIty View Boon KengPhoto: City view @ Boon Keng (credit: Hoi Hup Realty Pte Ltd)

Some units in prime locations and prime developments such as the Pinnacle @ Duxton and City View @ Boon Keng may have fetched record prices, but most owners are not in a rush to put their units up for sale as the resale market is currently slow.

In 2010, 1,338 units were sold within a year of reaching their MOP, about 13.7% of the number of newly eligible flats. By last year, there were only 388 such transactions, at about 6%. Though private property prices have fallen, the gap between public and private housing remains considerable; and with a slowing market, resale flats may not be able to command the prices of before.

Pinnacle @ Duxton was awarded the 2011 Urban Land Institute (ULI) Global Awards for Excellence. Image by HDB.

Pinnacle @ Duxton. Image by HDB.

The upperhand-tussle between buyers and sellers have been ongoing for the past 4 to 5 years, and the undercurrent uncertainty of late have not aided the situation. It may be a matter of “who blinks first” as buyers and sellers both wait out this iffy period. More flat owners are instead beginning to sublet their flats after meeting the MOP. The next big move which might shake things up would be possible changes to the property cooling measures.

Resale HDB flat prices up again

HDB resale flat prices have risen for 2 consecutive months this year, with a 0.2% rise in February. More than a distinctive market rebound, property analysts are embracing the slight adjustments as a sign of market stabilisation.

JurongEast HDB FlatIn fact, the market has been stable for the past year and a half, with less than 1 per cent fluctuation. It is still however, the buyers’ market. The number of resale HDB flat transactions have fallen, which could mean that demand is slowly waning, and the price point may be what the buyers are focused on. With the transparency of transaction data and statistics, more options made available such as singles now being able to apply for 2-room flats directly from HDB, and the injection of 9,000 new BTO flats into mature estates this year, buyers are more savvy and will only take the bait if the deal is truly good.

1,200 resale flats exchanged hands last month, down from 1,286 in January but still up from 1,148 last year though the lull could have been due to the year-end festivities. Industry experts are expecting resale HDB flat prices to remain flat this year, with an increase of transactions up to July when a fall in activity is expected during the Hungry Ghost Festival month.

Bidadari – Future Boomtown

In the most recent Housing Board’s sales exercise, which included 236 new BTO flats in Bidadari, the 5-room and multi-generation flats in this mature estate were more than 12 times oversubscribed, with most applicants being second-timers. That could signify how much potential the public saw in the new HDB estate, so much so that they were willing to try again.

Bidadari HDB estatePhoto credit: HDB

The new flats in Bidadari will also include new 2-room flexi units for senior citizens. Although singles are now allowed to purchase new 2-room flats directly from HDB instead, they are limited to flats in non-mature estates, and thus do not qualify to purchase 2-room flats in Bidadari under the Single Citizen Scheme if they were to purchase on their own.

AnchorvaleAs February’s launch was the first for 2016, the number of applicants indicated that housing demand remains high, while property curbs could have limited options. In the same exercise, flats in West Plains @ Bukit Batok were more than twice oversubscribed and those in Anchorvale Plains in Sengkang saw almost 7 applicants vying for one unit.

Anchorvale boasts views of the Punggol Reservoir and is close to a LRT station, which could explain its popularity. Buyers with limited resources might choose to go for units in non-mature estates and Sengkang is as good an estate as any, with promises of waterside living and the new Punggol township just next door.

 

HDB Flats – Mature vs Non-mature estates

Bukit Batok HDB - WestplainsThis year, in response to the high demand for new HDB flats in popular and mature estates, the Housing Board will be including more mature-estate-based BTO flats in their sales launch.

In February’s sales launch, they have already included some in Bidadari and Bukit Batok. Bidadari is considered a mature estate, part of Toa Payoh and the units in the previous launched have flown off the shelves because of its prime location. It is part of a mature estate yet holds the exclusivity and unique nature-friendly environment and freshness of a new estate. 1,594 new Bidadari BTO flats were offered up in this month’s launch and 1,655 more in Bukit Batok. 921 units were also available in Sengkang.

Alkaff Oasis Bidadari HDBAs per the response to last year’s Bidadari sales launch, the five-room and 3-Gen flats, with a starting price of $550,000, in this new estate received the most eyeballs.

Although mature estates often have a space constraint and are unable to absorb more new blocks, HDB is looking at allocating half of their 18,000 units to be launched this year to mature estates. In May’s launch, the public can look forward to new units in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok and Bukit Merah. Most will be 3- and 4-room flats, there in Ang Mo Kio, 2-room flexi and 3-generation units will also be available. This may be good news for smaller families or singles and senior citizens hoping to live near their parents or children.

Resale HDB flat prices stabilising

HDB resale flat prices fell a mere 1.5% last year, buoyed by a 0.2% rise in the last quarter of 2015.

Skyline Bukit Batok HDB BTO FlatPhoto credit: HDB

With the lowered prices of resale HDB flats, there may be an increase in sales volume this year as buyers have found many of these sans-COV (cash over valuation) resale units more affordable. Price-wise, property experts are looking at a 1 – 2 per cent movement, with prices staying quite stagnant this year. More young couples and upgraders may also be moving into the private property market as the total quantum prices of units have come down to a much more palatable level.

According to Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, resale flats are mostly selling at market value, with prices comparable to that of 2011. Some of the property cooling measures which have been implemented since that which have taken effect, and which may continue to do so include the mortgage servicing cap of 30 per cent, the 25-year maximum loan tenure limit, and a 3-year waiting period for permanent residents before they are allowed to purchase resale HDB flats. Demand may also have waned as singles are now able to purchase new 2-room BTO flats directly from HDB and 18,000 new flats are to be rolled out this year with the first launch in February.

Though this may point to the market bottoming out by end of 2015, two consecutive quarters of price increase is required before a clear sign of a market rebound can be confirmed.