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Commentary on HDB and Private Housing Market in 1Q 2024


Commentary on HDB and private housing market in 1Q 2024
Commentary on HDB and private housing market in 1Q 2024

Summary


  • Private housing price growth slowed down in 1Q 2024, mainly in the city fringe and suburban areas (i.e. RCR and OCR)

  • Core Central Region (CCR) private home prices enjoyed healthy expansion due to steady resale demand in the prime residential districts.

  • Prices of HDB resale flats increased at faster rate in 1Q 2024, but the growth not expected to accelerate as government policies and strong supply of BTO flats will subsequently slow down the rate of price growth.

  • Sales transactions of HDB resale flats increased while sale of private housing slipped as caution set in for some homebuyers.

  • Rental rates declined for the second quarter in 1Q 2024. This could push some tenants to upgrade to better rental accommodations.

  • For the whole of 2024, the HDB resale price index is projected to expand by 4% to 7% year-on-year (yoy), while the private housing price index could increase by 4% to 6% yoy.

 

Private residential property price growth slowing down

 

Based on the flash estimates of the private residential property price indices released by the URA today, private housing prices increased at a slower 1.5% quarter-on-quarter (qoq) compared to the 2.8% expansion in the preceding quarter.

 

The overall private housing price growth is dragged down by the slower growth of non-landed homes, such as condominiums and apartments, in the city fringe and suburban areas, represented by the Rest of Central Region (RCR) and Outside Central Region (OCR).

 

Healthy growth of CCR private home prices due to steady resale demand

 

After languishing with quarterly growth rates that are slower than those in the RCR and OCR for most of the past three years, the high-end Core Central Region (CCR) private non-landed housing price expansion has picked up in the past six months.

 

In the 6-month period from October 2023 to March 2024, the non-landed housing price indices for CCR, RCR and OCR increased by 7.2%, -0.6% and 4.9% respectively.

 

The quarterly number of CCR private homes transacted in the resale market has remained stable in 2023, while the primary sales of CCR homes has declined steadily from 1Q 2023 to 1Q 2024.

 

Although the prices of new CCR housing units sold by developers are typically higher in prices in terms of $ psf (per square foot) than prices of condominiums in the CCR resale market, the data indicates that the demand in the CCR resale market has contributed more to the healthy growth of CCR home prices than the primary market.


Private residential sales lower in 1Q 2024

 

The number of private housing units transacted in the first quarter of 2024 has declined by about 23% compared to the preceding quarter. The decline in the secondary market sales volume is higher than that in the primary market. As a result, the number of units sold by developers as a proportion of the overall market sales increased in 1Q 2024.

 

In 4Q 2023, about one in every four private residential units transacted were sold by developers. The market share of primary sales increased to 31.0% of overall sales in the first quarter of this year.

 

As a result, the higher prices of the properties sold in the primary market contributed to the rise in the property price index in 1Q 2024.

 

Table 1: Private housing quarterly sales in units

 

Primary sales (units)

Secondary sales (units)

Overall property sales (units)

Percentage change (qoq)

1Q 2023

1,256

2,865

4,121

14.9%

2Q 2023

2,127

3,261

5,388

30.7%

3Q 2023

1,946

3,255

5,201

-3.5%

4Q 2023

1,092

3,242

4,334

-16.7%

1Q 2024 (prelim)

1,030

2,297

3,327

-23.2%

Source: Mogul.sg Research, URA

 

HDB resale price growth not expected to accelerate

 

The HDB resale price index increased 1.7% qoq in the first quarter of 2024, faster than the four individual quarterly rate of price growth last year.

 

However, this slightly heightened pace of growth does not point to an acceleration of public housing price inflation. This is because the measures and policies that the government has implemented requires time to work their way through the housing market.

 

Furthermore, the government will be rolling out more new HDB flats in the next two upcoming BTO exercises. Some of the upcoming BTO projects are attractively located and the elevated supply of new flats will likely draw some demand from the HDB resale market. As a result, the growth of HDB resale prices are not expected to accelerate.

 

HDB resale transaction volume rises while private housing sales dropped

 

The transaction volume of HDB resale flats increased 5.8% qoq to 6,928 flats in the January to March period this year. Over the same period, the number of transacted private housing units fell about 23% qoq, based on preliminary figures. This data will be revised when the final statistics are released at the end of April. However, the private housing sales volume in both the primary and secondary markets are likely to have contracted in 1Q 2024.

 

It is quite likely that some homebuyers who are concerned about their job security, future income and economic uncertainties choose to buy HDB flats over private housing in the first quarter of this year because the lower financial commitment required for purchasing public housing make them a safer choice.

 

Rental market: Flight to quality

 

After peaking in the third quarter of 2023, the private residential rental rates continue to weaken in the past two quarters. The median rental rates of private non-landed housing slipped 0.6% qoq in 1Q 2024, based on the latest available information.

 

As borrowing cost remains elevated and rentals are expected to continue to decline this year, demand for private housing from investors seeking stable rental income could weaken. Together with the existing cooling measures, the lower investment demand could contribute to slow down the pace of price expansion in the private housing market.

 

However, the falling rentals could also encourage some tenants to move to homes of higher quality or more attractive locations in a flight to quality.

 

Outlook for HDB resale price growth and effects on private housing market

 

The 1.7% rise in HDB resale prices is faster than the 1.5% increase in private home prices.

 

Outlook for residential property market

 

The level of HDB resale transactions is expected to remain healthy even if the Singapore economy were to face headwinds because some buyers will purchase HDB flats as the safer choice during periods of economic uncertainties.

 

Furthermore, some HDB flat owners are capitalising on the rising resale prices of their flats to upgrade to private properties. Hence, this would support the demand for private homes in the RCR and OCR, where most HDB flats are located.

 

Private homes sales could pick up in the coming months as more residential projects are launched. Taking all the factors such as the government’s policy to cool the housing market and the geopolitical tensions, the total number of private homes transacted in the primary and secondary markets this year could remain at a stable level of 18,000 to 20,000 units, which is at a similar level as in 2023.

 

In the absence of unexpected market shocks, the overall prices of private and HDB resale homes are expected to increase at below 2% every quarter in 2024. Hence, the HDB resale price index is projected to expand by 4% to 7% year-on-year (yoy), while the private housing price index could increase by 4% to 6% yoy this year.

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