Prices of HDB resale flats inch up

Prices of HDB resale flats inch up

PRICES of resale Housing Board flats rose for the first time this year, and the number of resale flats changing hands also climbed.

But while the resale market showed signs of improvement last month, it may be still too early to say that the market is on the path to recovery, said experts.

Resale prices inched up 0.1 per cent last month from September, ending eight consecutive months of decline, according to flash figures released yesterday by Singapore Real Estate Exchange (SRX).

But property analysts said the increase was marginal and cautioned against construing it as a market rebound. "I see it more as prices stabilising," said R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng.

SLP International Property Consultants research head Nicholas Mak agreed. "It can be a statistical blip. All we can say is that prices are generally flat." He said that even with stable prices, a recovery is not guaranteed.

"Sometimes prices can stay flat for even up to a year."

ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim was less positive. He said: "We expect the market to further soften, with loan curbs like the mortgage servicing ratio still affecting the majority of HDB buyers."

Compared with October last year, the resale index was still down by 6.1 per cent.

Executive flat prices increased by 0.8 per cent last month, but those of HDB four-room flats were level with their September prices. Prices of three- and fiveroom flats continued to dip, by 0.4 per cent and 0.1 per cent respectively.

Last month, for the first time in 19 months, HDB buyers also paid more than SRX's estimated market value for their flats. They paid a median of $1,000 more. Analysts said the prices of executive flats held better, partly due to their limited supply.

"Their prices have also fallen to attractive levels compared with three years ago, so buyers are prepared to go in now," said Mr Mak. Resale volume last month was also up - the highest this year - as buyers swooped in to take advantage of low prices. There were 1,553 resale units sold last month, up 5.7 per cent from 1,469 flats sold in September, and 11.5 per cent higher than a year ago.

Mr Lim said more buyers might be making purchases as they are "not put off by high cash premiums like in the past".

But Mr Ong put the increase in resale volume down to "opportunistic buying", given that resale prices edged up only slightly.

Such an outlook is cold comfort for Madam Christine Tan, 43, who is trying to sell her fourroom Yishun flat before moving into a five-room Build-To-Order unit next year.

"It's so hard to get a high price now even though I've renovated my flat," said the babysitter who lives with her husband and three children. "Now I have to be prepared to lose some money."

yeosamjo@sph.com.sg


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