HDB resale prices edge up 0.6 per cent after year of declines

After a year of consecutive monthly declines, Housing Board resale prices edged up 0.6 per cent last month, according to SRX Property flash figures yesterday.

But experts do not take this as a sign that the market is rebounding. Instead, they expect prices to continue sliding.

The last time HDB resale prices rose was in January last year. They have fallen 5.7 per cent since then.

"We cannot read the monthly price increase... as a sure sign of turnaround in HDB resale flat prices, as the increase was very marginal," said R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng.

Said ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim: "The increase has more to do with the up-and-down fluctuations that are associated with tracking prices on a monthly basis."

Last month's rise was driven by four- and five-room flats, with their prices increasing by 1.1 per cent and 1.5 per cent respectively.

This more than made up for a 0.9 per cent fall in three-room flat prices and a 0.6 per cent fall for executive flats.

Both mature and non-mature estates saw price increases, of 0.5 per cent and 0.7 per cent respectively.

The tepid uptick could be partly due to units sold at the Pinnacle@Duxton premium HDB project last month, said Mr Ong.

Units there have fetched prices ranging from $818,000 to $1.03 million and may have pulled up overall prices, he added.

But analysts see the overall downward trend continuing. Mr Ong expects prices to fall by up to 4 per cent in the first half, while HSR International Realtors expects falls of up to 1 per cent each quarter.

But sellers such as Madam Safiah, 50, hope last month's marginal climb in prices will not be an exception.

"Hopefully the prices will really go up. Last year they already came down a lot," said the housewife, who has been trying to sell since November. She had thought her four- room flat in Hougang could fetch $460,000, but now hopes to get $430,000 instead.

Resale volumes fell for the fourth straight month in January with 1,255 flats sold, down from 1,295 in December.

However, this was still 15.3 per cent more than the 1,088 units sold in January last year.

This year-on-year increase "is an encouraging sign that more buyers are entering the market as prices become more attractive", said HSR.

Noting that January and February are traditionally quiet months in the resale market due to Chinese New Year festivities, ERA's Mr Lim expects the pace of deals to pick up from next month.

"The pace we see in March to May will set the tone for the year... March, April and May are very important months for the HDB resale market," Mr Lim added.


This article was first published on Feb 6, 2015.
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