Prices continue to decline because of cooling measures, say experts
THE number of Housing Board flats sold on the resale market rose last month as prices fell 0.8 per cent, according to flash figures released by SRX Property yesterday.
There were 1,349 flats resold last month, up from 1,148 in February - a rise which experts said was probably seasonal. However, they expect more resale flats to change hands this year than last year, when transactions were at a record low.
ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim said: "With the Build-To-Order programme slowing down this year and the continued stabilising of resale HDB prices, we are hopeful that more would choose to buy from the resale HDB market."
According to SRX Property's index, resale prices are now 6.6 per cent lower than a year ago.
Last month's price fall was driven by the decrease in prices of three-, four- and five-room flats by 0.9 per cent, 1.1 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively. Resale executive flat prices, however, rose 1 per cent.
Flats in mature and non-mature estates saw prices fall by 0.9 per cent and 0.8 per cent respectively.
HDB resale prices have fallen every month since February last year, interrupted only by a 0.2 per cent rise in January this year. The continued decline is due to cooling measures such as loan curbs, said experts.
ERA's Mr Lim expects prices to fall by 5 per cent to 6 per cent this year. R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng expects a fall of up to 4 per cent in the first half, with prices then stabilising if cooling measures remain. As prices fall, buying interest could pick up, he said.
Last month's resale volume was still 5 per cent lower than the 1,420 units resold in March last year.
Mr Lim said: "The pick-up in volume was largely expected to happen from March after the Chinese New Year festivities."
If the momentum lasts through July, before the traditionally slow Hungry Ghost Month in August, the market will be on track to better last year's low of 17,318 transactions, he said. Some 18,000 to 20,000 flats could change hands for the year.
But OrangeTee manager of research and consultancy Wong Xian Yang is not expecting volumes to rise in the next few months.
"Historically, we see volumes peaking in March, before slowly tapering off in the months leading to June," he said.
For seller Jeffrey Tng, 49, the weak market has him in a bind.
"It's either you sell it at a loss, or you have to forfeit the deposit," the project manager said.
He will have to sell his current Serangoon five-roomer, a resale flat he bought 15 years ago, in order to collect the keys and move into his new five-roomer.
The Straits Times / Home Published on Friday, 10 April 2015