SINGAPORE: The number of Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats sold in the resale market in the second quarter plunged 41.9 per cent amid the COVID-19 "circuit breaker" period.
Official figures released on Friday (Jul 24) showed a total of 3,426 flats were sold from April to June, falling from the 5,893 sold in the first quarter.
On a year-on-year basis, the number of transactions was down 45.4 per cent, according to HDB data.
Prices inched up 0.3 per cent from Q1 to Q2, with the resale price index – which provides information on the general price movements in the resale public housing market – increasing to 131.9.
Despite the unprecedented global health crisis and macroeconomic shocks posed by COVID-19, there has been no steep correction in prices unlike in past crises, said head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie Ms Christine Sun.
"As of now, the four rounds of aggressive stimulus packages unleashed by the Singapore government seem effective in preventing a housing market meltdown or property price collapse," she added.
HOUSE VIEWINGS CURTAILED
Singapore implemented a circuit breaker on Apr 7 to tackle COVID-19. It began a gradual reopening with Phase 1 starting from Jun 2.
Physical viewings of flats resumed only when Phase 2 kicked in on Jun 19.
Ms Sun said buyers not being allowed to view flats in person probably had an impact on sales.
"Even with the use of virtual home tours, augmented reality and e-open houses, some buyers face difficulty overcoming the psychological barrier of sealing the deal without first inspecting the unit in person."
But she sounded an optimistic note on the overall direction of the resale market.
"Given that the HDB resale market had not been heavily battered by the pandemic unlike the hospitality and retail sectors, the road to recovery may not be a lengthy one. We may expect demand to return to some normalcy in the coming months as house viewings have resumed fully."
HDB figures also showed a 9.1 per cent fall in number of approved applications to rent out HDB flats, from 11,591 in the first quarter to 10,539 in the second quarter. Compared to the same period last year, the number of flats rented out declined by 14.6 per cent.
As of Jun 30, there were 57,693 flats rented out, an increase of 0.1 per cent from the previous quarter.
HDB will launch about 7,800 Build-to-Order (BTO) flats in Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Choa Chu Kang, Geylang, Pasir Ris, Tampines, Tengah and Woodlands in August.
It had earlier said that the BTO exercise originally scheduled for May would be combined with the August exercise.
In November, it will launch about 5,700 BTO flats in Bishan, Sembawang, Tampines, Tengah and Toa Payoh.
Across the two launches, the flats in Choa Chu Kang, Tampines North and Tengah will have a shorter waiting time, said HDB.