The fourth quarter of 2023 witnessed an increase of 2.7 percent increase in the cost of residential property for private use in Singapore mostly due to the sales of new launches that were priced with benchmark prices as well as low volume of transactions.
The Q4 spurt raised the price index from to a 0.8 per cent increase in Q3 to end the year with a 6.7 percent gain which is a slight decrease from the 8.6 percent rise in 2022, and a 10.6 per cent increase in 2021.
Tan Tee Khoon is the PropertyGuru Singapore country manager. He pointed out that the changes in prices between 2023-2024 suggest that the value of homes for private use has reached a peak.
Tricia Song is CBRE’s head of research for Singapore as well as South-east Asia. She said that the price of homes for sale by private owners has grown for seven straight years following the bottom reached at mid-2017. She said that prices are up 32,3 per cent from the Q1 2020 trough.
Much of 2023’s price rise was due to the non-landed market in suburban areas that saw prices rise 13.8 percent during the year, said Song. The Outside Central Region’s (OCR) price rises significantly outstripped those of the Rest of Central Region’s (RCR) which saw prices rose by 2.7 percent, as did the prime Core Central Region prices (CCR) was more expensive by 2.1 percent.
Private condo prices in OCR increased by 4.6 percent, quarter-on-quarter (qoq) after an 5.5 percent increase in the third quarter. CCR prices increased by a fraction less, of 4.2 per cent in the fourth quarter but recovering from the previous quarter’s decrease of 2.7 per cent.
Two launches specifically racked impressive sales when they were launched in the fourth quarter, at benchmark prices. CapitaLand’s J’Den located in Jurong East, sold 323 units at an average cost of S$2,451 a square foot (psf) when it was launched. UOL and SingLand’s Watten House located in Bukit Timah both sold 100 units at an average of S$3,230 per square. foot.
The two projects drove around half of the new sales that were generated in the respective OCR and CCR segments in Q4, stated Cushman and Wakefield’s research chief Wong Xian Yang.
RCR prices decreased by 1.2 percent during Q4 following the rise of 2.1 percent in the prior quarter. Some of the projects in development may have sold their last un-sold units for sale and this has led to a decline in the RCR index, explained Song. This includes Liv @ MB at Mountbatten and Myra at Potong Pasir. One Pearl Bank Condo located in Outram is also sold out.
A lower volume of sales in the fourth quarter and throughout the year, aswell being slower price increases outside the OCR show a rising buyer resistance to already high prices, analysts said.
Wong, a Cushman & Wakefield analyst, said that prices for non-landed goods are at historic highs. That will be up to Q4 2023. “Compared with pre-pandemic levels (at the end of Q4 2019), CCR, RCR and OCR non-landed prices are growing by 11 percent or 37 per cent, and 40 percent, according to the respective figures,” he said.
Knight Frank’s head of research Leonard Tay said that although balance sheets for households were healthy, buyers “have been and will continue to be cautious” in their housing choices.
However, Lee Sze Teck, Huttons chief of data analytics and analysis, explained that the record-breaking sales of the Q4 launch were evidence of the “ample capacity for local buyers” even as foreign buyers were not buying due to the increase in Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) last April.
In Q4, Singaporeans as permanent residents, Singaporeans and foreigners made up 98.5 percent of the homeowners who bought homes privately.
Based on caveats data as of Jan. 2nd, 2024, the quantity of purchases made by foreigners during Q4 2023 dipped from 271 in Q12020, and 62 for Q4 2023. Lee stated that this is the lowest level since December 2011, when ABSD was first introduced. ABSD was first launched by the government.
The volume of transactions dropped throughout the year. Based on the most recent figures from the Urban Redevelopment Authority on Tuesday 2 January total value of transactions for private homes was 27 percent lower than the Q3 numbers. That’s equivalent to 3,800 units.
The total amount of units sold during the year totalled 18,510 units, a drop of 15% from 21,890 in 2022. This is also the lowest annual sales transaction since 2016, as reported by URA. The number includes the new sales, resales and subsales. The figure excludes executive condo units.
Landed properties saw a booming showing in the last quarter of the year. In Q4, the price of homes that were landed increased in 4.5 percent, and reversed the decrease of 3.6 percent during the previous quarter. For the entire 2023 the prices of homes that were landed were increasing by 7.8 percent, up from 9.6 per cent in 2022.
Demand for freehold landed homes is “evergreen” According to Knight Frank’s Tay and “the main issue to ensuring that deals are successfully concluded is the lack of supply of available stock”.
Ismail Gafoor is the chief executive director of PropNex Realty. He said that the 4.5 percent price hike could be attributed to the slight increase in detached house transactions. There were 43 detached houses in the fourth quarter which was compared to 39 units in the previous quarter. The cost of a detached house also rose by about 16 percent from QoQ to S$1,714 for a square foot of land. He said that this may have helped to offset the lower price of semi detached houses and terraced houses.
Landed homeowners are also likely to offer higher prices, and they show no urgency to sell, said ERA’s chief executive officer Marcus Chu. More landed deals have been cancelled as buyers and sellers hit an impasse over price, he added.
Analysts expect prices to slow further, and to fall between 3 and 5 percent in the coming year.
CBRE’s Song said that the current price hikes will continue to discourage demand. The CBRE analyst said that because of the increasing inventory, prices will continue to slow in 2024. Prices for homes “are likely to remain in a downward trend due to the resiliency of the household balance sheets and the low amount of inventory that is not sold”.
New pricing for launch is expected to stay “elevated”, due to the already committed land and construction costs, according to Tay.
PropNex’s Gafoor is of the opinion that developers should set prices “more efficiently” to increase sales during the launch weekend.
As Tay pointed out, investors who are interested in capital preservation, appreciation and regular income – both locals and foreigners – will likely remain on the sidelines “until the interest rates reach their peak or stabilize and possibly decrease as well as until there is more clarity in the outlook for economic growth”.
He added: “History has shown, however, that seasoned investors familiar with Singapore’s housing market are quick to react to periods of low activity turn into periods of high activity.”
Tembusu Grand has been a popular project in the RCR. Current market trends will continue to attract home buyers to Tembusu Grand.
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