SINGAPORE: Fewer Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats were sold in the resale market in the first quarter of this year amid the COVID-19 outbreak, official figures released on Friday (Apr 24) showed.
A total of 5,893 flats were sold in the January to March period, a decline of 7 per cent from the 6,339 flats sold in the fourth quarter of last year.
However, when compared on a year-on-year basis, the number of transactions was up 21.9 per cent, according to HDB data.
Prices held steady, with the resale price index – which provides information on the general price movements in the resale public housing market – remaining unchanged from the previous quarter at 131.5.
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HDB figures also showed that the number of flats rented out fell by 4 per cent, from 12,079 in the fourth quarter to 11,591 in the first quarter. Compared to the same period last year, rentals were down by 1.6 per cent.
As of Mar 31, there were 57,652 flats rented out, an increase of 0.7 per cent from the previous quarter.
HDB also said its launch of new flats scheduled in May will be postponed until further notice with the extension of the “circuit breaker” period to Jun 1.
PRESSURE ON PRICES IF COVID-19 PERSISTS: ANALYST
The quarter-on-quarter decline in resale transactions indicates that the COVID-19 pandemic and circuit breaker measures have started to have an impact on the public housing market, said Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie.
With non-essential workplaces and schools closed and people discouraged from leaving their homes, house viewings have also been discontinued.
Going forward, prices of resale flats could contract should the coronavirus outbreak persist and unemployment rises, although sales may regain some momentum when safe distancing measures are gradually eased, said Ms Sun.
"Genuine buyers and those with urgent housing needs may return to the market when flat viewings resume," said Ms Sun.
"The price affordability of HDB flats may be deemed attractive to some buyers, especially those who prefer a cheaper housing option or a smaller housing loan in light of the current economic uncertainties," she added.