HDB resale volume hits new low, but prices hold steady
The Housing Board flat resale volume plunged to a record low last month, compounding the dismal transaction levels seen in April.
Only 364 flats changed hands last month - 13.9 per cent down on the 423 resold in April, data from real estate firm SRX showed yesterday.
The figures for the two circuit breaker months were well under the previous record low of 778 flats resold in May 1990.
The resale market also fared worse than in previous disease outbreaks. In May 2003, the corresponding month during the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak, resale volumes still reached 2,272 flats.
Prices held steady last month, increasing just 0.1 per cent over April. Analysts said this shows there was no panic selling, with sellers maintaining asking prices despite what appeared to be free-falling demand.
Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie, said the sales decline was only "natural" as physical viewings could not be held during the circuit breaker period, and people are reluctant to buy unless they can check out the unit.
This matches the trend in the private property resale market, she added, though home seekers seem to be getting used to making decisions based on virtual home tours.
"We have noticed that more buyers are becoming receptive. More resale sellers who are in urgent need to offload their units and buyers who need an immediate home may adopt such virtual tours," said Ms Sun.
"Virtual tours may be here to stay as long as Covid-19 continues to linger."
ERA Realty research and consultancy head Nicholas Mak said there is still "underlying strength" in the HDB resale market "about three to four months after Covid-19 reached our shores", with prices edging higher than last month's and still higher than a year ago.
"There was no 'fire sale'," he said. "Although house viewings were disallowed during the partial lockdown in May, the sellers were still able to hold their asking prices and transacted the HDB flats at prices that were slightly higher than in previous months."
Mr Mak noted the median prices of most flat types, such as three-, four- and five-roomers, rose from April to last month.
"There were even two HDB flats that were reportedly sold for more than $1 million each in May," he added.
Ms Sun and Mr Mak feel the worst is over now that restrictive measures are being gradually eased.
But the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on sales is inevitable, with Mr Mak predicting that about 17,000 to 20,000 HDB flat resales could be made this year, falling short of the 23,714 recorded last year.