SINGAPORE: Private home prices in Singapore rose 7.9 per cent in 2018, compared with a 1.1 per cent increase the previous year, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Friday (Jan 25), confirming flash estimates announced earlier this month.
Private home prices fell by 0.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year, compared with the 0.5 per cent increase in the third quarter.
URA revised its estimates for prices of non-landed private homes in the Core Central Region (CCR), which decreased by 1.0 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018. This is compared to an increase of 1.3 per cent in the previous quarter.
Prices in the Outside Central Region (OCR) increased by 0.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of the year, while prices in the Rest of Central Region (RCR) rose by 1.8 per cent.
For the whole of 2018, prices of non-landed properties in CCR, RCR and OCR increased by 6.7 per cent, 7.4 per cent and 9.4 per cent respectively.
"Slower launches and sales in the primary market and easing of transactions in the secondary market have had an effect on prices in the fourth quarter," noted Mr Ong Teck Hui, senior director of research and consultancy at JLL.
LAUNCHES AND TAKE-UP OF PRIVATE HOMES BY DEVELOPERS
Developers launched 1,657 uncompleted private residential units (excluding ECs) for sale in the fourth quarter of last year, a 56 per cent drop from the 3,754 units launched in the previous quarter.
For the whole year, developers launched 8,769 uncompleted private residential properties, compared with 6,020 units in the previous year.
In all, they sold 1,836 units (excluding ECs) in the fourth quarter, compared with the 3,012 units sold in the previous quarter.
For the whole year, they sold 8,795 units, compared with 10,566 units in the previous year.
Mr Ong said he expects new launches to increase this year, "as developers see fit to continue launching projects to avoid a bunching up of supply if launches are held back".
He estimates that 10,000 to 12,000 new private homes could be launched in 2019, and 9,000 to 10,000 units could be sold.
"The strong supply and price-sensitive demand are likely to keep prices on a generally flat trajectory assuming fairly stable economic and market conditions," he said.
HDB RESALE PRICES FALL 0.9% IN 2018
Meanwhile, resale flat prices fell by 0.2 per cent in the final quarter of last year, taking the total decline for the year to 0.9 per cent, data from the Housing and Development Board (HDB) showed on Friday, confirming flash estimates announced earlier this month.
This can be attributed to several factors, including concerns over depleting leases and the lowered maximum loan quantum for those borrowing from banks, according to real estate agency ERA.
Rising interest rates have also contributed to the decline, according to ERA.
"Housing loan interest rates have been increasing gradually over the last year and this has forced buyers to be more conservative when making offers to sellers," said Mr Eugene Lim, key executive officer at ERA.
Another consideration is that purchase price have to be supported by valuation, Mr Lim added.
"Most HDB buyers are price sensitive and do not want to pay above valuation. As such, most will make conservative offers on the price rather than an above-valuation price unless the flat has fantastic attributes; for example, well-located, high floor with unblocked view and nice renovation," he added.
Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee, said that despite 2018's lacklustre performance for HDB flats, it is noteworthy that the fall has been less pronounced than 2017's 1.5 per cent decline.
"The overall price index might have been uplifted by more transactions of newer HDB flats that have reached their Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) in non-mature estates and are able to fetch good prices," she said.
Ms Sun also noted that more HDB resale flats were sold above S$700,000 last year. A record 71 flats were also being transacted above S$1 million last year.
HDB data also showed that resale transactions fell by 20.2 per cent to 5,637 cases in the fourth quarter of 2018. For the full year, resale transactions increased by 4.6 per cent, from 22,077 cases in 2017 to 23,099 cases.
Going forward, Mr Lim from ERA said he expects prices to move up due to increased demand.
"However, buyers remain conservative and we would probably see a very conservative uptick by about 1 per cent for the whole year," he said, adding that resale volume could increase by about 5 per cent to 24,000 units this year.
Ms Sun concurred, noting that 2018's resale transactions is a high since 2012.
"The increasing sales volume is a silver lining in the HDB resale market. Around 26,000 HDB flats could be reaching their MOP this year. We may see more resale activities in towns like Punggol, Sengkang, Yishun, Bukit Merah, Pasir Ris and Tampines as many flats will be put up in the resale market once they reach their five-year MOP," she said.
"Further, the widening price gap between newer and older flats may turn the tide in favour of owners of older flats as some buyers may be drawn to their price affordability and their upgrading potential once the government announces their plans for Voluntary Early Redevelopment Scheme and Home Improvement Programme," she added.
HDB TO LAUNCH 15,000 NEW FLATS THIS YEAR
HDB confirmed it would launch about 15,000 new flats for sale this year.
The first Build-To-Order exercise of the year will be launched in February with an offer of about 3,100 flats in Jurong West, Kallang Whampoa and Sengkang.