Business

Private home prices up, but sales volume down

The private housing market went in two directions last year - while prices inched north, the number of sales took a sharp turn south.

The price rise was modest - up 2.7 per cent for the whole of last year - although it did beat flash estimates of a 2.5 per cent gain.

But the decline in the number of private residential units sold was more striking - down 13.5 per cent to 19,150, according to data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

This came on the back of a 31 per cent plunge in resale transactions as buyers were lured by the increased availability of new projects, noted Ms Tricia Song, head of research for Singapore at Colliers International.

Resale transactions, which accounted for 48 per cent of all sales in the fourth quarter, came in at 2,342 compared with 2,378 in the third. Overall, there were 8,949 resale transactions last year compared with 13,009 in 2018.

New home sales by developers rose 12.7 per cent to 9,912 units, excluding executive condominiums (ECs).

"The new-sales segment is expected to continue to dominate owing to the line-up of projects scheduled for launch in 2020," said Mr Desmond Sim, real estate firm CBRE's head of research, South-east Asia.

Developers sold 2,443 units (excluding ECs) in the fourth quarter compared with 3,281 in the previous three months.

Prices overall were 2.7 per cent higher last year compared with 2018, but that was a marked drop from the 7.9 per cent rise from 2017 to 2018. The difference is largely down to the effects of the cooling measures imposed in July 2018.

Ms Christine Li, Cushman & Wakefield's head of research for Singapore and South-east Asia, called 2019 a "relatively good year" for the private residential market as the increase in new sales transactions and overall price growth helped mitigate slower take-up in overall volumes.

Developers launched 2,226 uncompleted private residential homes (excluding ECs) for sale in the fourth quarter, compared with 3,628 units in the third.

There was a total supply of 49,173 uncompleted private residential units excluding ECs in the pipeline with planning approval as at Dec 31 compared with 50,964 as at Sept 30. Around 30,000 of these remained unsold as at Dec 31. - THE STRAITS TIMES

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