Fewer HDB flats sold last month

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Observers say cooling measures a factor

The number of Housing Board flats that changed hands last month was 23.9 per cent lower than in November, a bigger fall than a year ago, flash data from real estate portal SRX showed yesterday.

This was the fifth straight month of decline since the cooling measures announced by the Government in July, which included a tightening of loan limits.

December is typically the slowest month of the year, with many buyers and sellers on vacation, but the drop last month was larger than the 20.1 per cent registered in 2017.

In terms of absolute numbers, the resale volume in December of 1,434 flats was also smaller: 9.6 per cent lower than the 1,587 units for the same month in 2017.

"The bigger month-on-month fall and lower number of resales could be due to the effects of the recent cooling measures and concerns about the depreciating value of ageing flats this year," OrangeTee & Tie research head Christine Sun noted.

PropNex Realty chief executive Ismail Gafoor said: "The big difference is that in 2017, market sentiment was much stronger, with many (collective) sales. By the middle of 2018, with the cooling measures in, buyers didn't have as much urgency to get a flat. They know nothing is going to change adversely."

There were some bright spots, however, in certain segments even though the overall HDB resale price index continued to fall.

SRX data showed that the premium that buyers were prepared to pay over market value last month was relatively larger for four- and five-room flats.

While the overall median transaction over X-value (TOX) fell $1,000 to negative $2,000, the TOX for four- and five-room flats was negative $1,000 and zero, Ms Sun noted.

TOX is a measure of whether buyers are overpaying, or underpaying for their units, compared with a market value that is computer-generated by SRX Property.

This was also smaller compared to three-room flats and executive flats, where the TOX was negative $5,000 and negative $6,000 respectively.

In addition, prices of flats in non-mature estates increased by 0.2 per cent last month, whereas flats in mature estates dipped by 1 per cent.

Ms Sun said the price increase could be attributed to more flats in Sengkang and Punggol reaching their minimum occupation period and entering the resale market.

"Some of these flats are able to fetch good prices as they are new and well-designed.

"The Government's plans to further develop Punggol into the next digital district may have also increased the attractiveness of these flats," she said.