Resale HDB flat market’s continued stabilisation

For 2 consecutive years now, the sales volume of resale HDB flats have been on the rise. Since 2014, the number of transactions recorded for resale HDB flats have been increasing, from 17,318 in 2014 to 19,306 in 2015 and then 20,813 last year.

ToaPayohHDBflatResale flat prices are showing signs of stabilisation, with only a 0.1 per cent fall in 2016 from the year before. Though last quarter’s transaction figures fell 9.1 per cent, it could be due to the usual year-end lull as most were away for the school holidays. Akin to buyers’ sentiments and reactions in the private property market, HDB flat buyers have also been increasingly keen on closing deals as prices have been falling steadily since 2013. Most consider the market currently nearing or at the bottom of the property cycle and are thus more confident or willing to make the purchase at what they consider lowest-possible prices.

Despite the government ramping up supply of new BTO (build-to-order) flats for young couples and families, even including singles in their bigger scheme of things by providing them the option to purchase 2-room units directly from HDB instead of previously restricting them to only units in the resale market, there are still those who will require a unit sooner rather than later or do not quite qualify for new flats. These buyers will be the ones who prop up the market, though with the current cooling measures still in place, prices are unlikely to rebound anytime soon.

ClementiHDBflatProperty analysts are however hopeful that the number of resale flats transacted this year will be closer to the 21,000 to 23,000 mark. Resale prices have fallen to a level at which young couple and families find attractive or affordable enough to commit. A large number of HDB flats and suburban condominiums will also reach completion this year, which could mean more HDB upgraders will be looking to sell their existing flat in the resale market. And as rents are expected to fall as well, for the same reasons, the most optimistic outlook could be a 1 to 2 per cent price increase by end 2017.

Fewer new HDB Flats to be launched in 2017

sembawanghdb-flatMore applicants have been successful in securing a suitable and preferred unit from the Housing Board (HDB) directly since the authorities ramped up supply a few years back. Come 2017, the supply flow of new Build-to-order (BTO) flats will be reduced by 1,000 units from 18,000 this year to 17,000. Some of the latter launches this year, in particular those in non-mature estates such as Sembawang and Yishun, have already seen lower application rates and the 10,000-unit stock of balance flats from previous launches is also rather high.

81d36c494a88405a9dbd5dad5c28924aPart of the reason for the trim could also be the slowing economy and the reduced pace of family formation. But unlike the long 3- to 4-year wait typical of most BTO flats, these newer launches could be launched by 2018 and be ready for occupation by 2020. With the declining local populus, tighter immigration policies and a rapidly ageing population, the Singaporean government is feeling the increased urgency in encouraging millennials to form new family units.

Most of the younger generation of Singaporeans prioritise acquiring a home and having children in that order. Being able to provide them with a home quickly will no doubt be crucial in the push for Singapore’s birth rate. The National Development Minister, Lawrence Wong, has however promised that the supply of new BTO flats will continue, albeit being adjusted according to demand, across both non-mature and mature HDB estates to provide applicants with a range of choices.

Raised income ceiling for HDB grants – Help or Hurt

The income ceiling for the application of HDB grants was raised last year, and till date, the policy change has helped more than 1,500 household secure new or resale HDB flats. Previously, the income cap was $12,000 for executive condominiums, $10,000 per household  or $5,000 for singles. Following the adjustment in August last year, the income cap is now $14,000, $12,000 and $6,000 respectively.

Westwood ResidencesThe Housing Board has cited rising income and an increased demand for public housing as push factors for the change. Some property experts however feel that the move has hurt the private property market as these are potential private property buyers whom the market may have lost out on and whom may have cost taxpayer’s more burden. However, these buyers could also have been sandwiched between the public and private housing markets, unable to afford the latter nor the former without a CPF housing grant.

From the 11,833 new HDB flats and 6,464 resale flats sold within the last year, about 5 per cent and 15 per cent of the purchases would not have been made prior to the income ceiling revisions. The last time the income ceiling was raised by $2,000 was 5 years ago in 2011. The question remains if it is a matter of eligibility or affordability of existing public housing units which detracts a possible remaining group or groups of buyers who may still be unable to purchase resale units despite securing all possible grants.

 

Resale HDB flat market remains stagnant in November

Resale HDB flat prices have remained stagnant for the past couple of years, indicating that the market has stabilised. Though prices have increased by 0.2 per cent last month, sales volume has gone the opposite direction with a 5.3 per cent drop. The minimal rise is likely to be caused by buyers ready to complete transactions before the quiet festive year-end holiday season.

hdb-flat-rentalBetween permanent residents having a longer wait before they can purchase HDB flats and a closing gap between private non-landed homes and resale flats, the market is not looking a rebound anytime soon. As more new flats are being completed and more HDB flat owners receive keys to their new units and demand remains quiet, the scale between sellers and buyers may tip towards the latter.

Sellers of HDB flats in mature estates may fare better as prices here have increased 0.8 per cent in November. Location and proximity to schools, transport nodes and amenities remain the crucial factors in sealing deals. 1,585 resale flats were sold in November, down from 1,673 in October. In a year-on-year comparison however, 18,005 units have been sold, up from 2014’s 17,318 and likely to be comparable to 2015’s 19,306 units. The market stagnation is expected to continue well into 2017, especially as the authorities have not shown any signs of lifting the property cooling measures.

Resale HDB flat prices likely to remain at current level

After many consecutive quarters of market stagnation, buyers are coming to accept current resale HDB flat prices as the new norm.

solacresMany have remained in inertia as they waited for HDB flat prices to fall. But even with the introduction of massive new BTO flat supply, prices have not budged beyond the 11.3 per cent drop since the April 2013 peak. And property analysts are not expecting any further fall in prices, saying that the current resale flat prices are probably as low as they can get, especially as the government is closely monitoring the market in order to create some sort of balance between  individual profit and public housing provision.

Though the number of resale HDB units sold increased by 0.4 per cent in October, prices fell slightly by 0.1 per cent. Prices of the larger 5-room flats fell the most, at 0.9 per cent, though the rarer 3-room flats segment saw a 0.6 per cent rise and similarly a 0.8 per cent rise was reflected in the executive flat market as these units are in higher demand.

houganghdbThe past quarter has seen the resale HDB flat price index fluctuating within the 1 per cent range, with a fall in August likely due to the Hungry Ghost month, followed by some correction in September. In the months ahead, prices of HDB flats are not expected to swing either ways though the number of transactions may increase as buyers begin to realise that the numbers are unlikely to drop any further.

Resale HDB flat prices fall in August

Photo credit: HDB

Photo credit: HDB

Rather than a market rebound, the HDB flat market may have to be content with stabilising prices and sales volume. August saw a 0.7 per cent dip in resale flat prices, led by a 1 per cent fall in 4-room flats, over the past 3 months after a slight rise in July. 3- and 5-room resale flat prices also inched down 0.6 per cent while executive condominium (EC) prices rose 0.8 per cent. The price drop is seen in both mature and non-mature HDB estates.

The Hungry Ghost month may also have had something to do with the drop in sales prices as buyers tend to hold off buying during that month though units with lower selling prices may have transacted hence pulling the average median prices down slightly. Since the market peak in April 2013, HDB resale flat prices have since fallen 11.5 per cent.

Photo credit: HDB

Photo credit: HDB

Property analysts predict a level market for the rest of the year, with price sustainability at best and as long as the economic forecast remains unclear and overall property market sentiment weak, any price rebound will be unlikely. Sales volume has however been rising, a promising sign, though as more new HDB flats reach completion within the next couple of years, more flat owners will be pushed to sell within a specified time period and competition may once again push prices down.

Resale HDB market sees rise in sales

The number of resale HDB flats exchanging hands in April rose by 10.3%, a positive sign despite prices remaining level. The last time sales volume exceeded the 1,800-unit mark was in October 2012. 1,828 units were sold in April this year.

Though property analysts are wary about calling this a market rebound, the increase in transactions could mean an eventual decrease in the number of resale flats available. Depending on how far the price gap between private property and resale HDB flats goes, the diminishing stock of resale flats in the market may entice buyers to purchase sooner rather than later. And the increase in rarity could also mean the increase in prices.

Serangoon HDB flatFor the moment however, the buyers may still have the upper hand as most are buying only after having waited for prices to fall. The cash-over-valuation prices are almost all gone, and with the purchasing process adjusted, buyers are less likely to fork out additional monies above the valuation price. In addition, data pertaining to resale flat prices can now be more easily accessed, thus buyers are seldom willing to succumb to sellers’ high asking prices.

HDB flat prices have stagnated for almost a year now, though the fluctuation either ways has not been drastic. Last month for example, 3-room flat prices rose by 0.6 per cent though 5-room flat prices fell by 0.9 per cent. This could be an indication of what the buyers are now looking for. As the population and policies shift, the property market will also need to adapt quickly to their changing needs.

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?