January 22, 2021
SINGAPORE, 22 January 2021 – The Singapore residential property market was a standout in 2020, defying pandemic woes and economic malaise to achieve stellar sales and moderate price growth. Pent-up demand for homes, ample liquidity in the market, low interest rates, and the vastly improved sentiment have boosted the housing market – both private and public housing - in the second half of 2020.
Q4 2020 Private Residential Property Statistics
Latest figures from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) showed that overall private home prices rose by 2.1% in Q4 2020 – the highest quarterly increase since the 3.4% growth posted in Q2 2018. It is unchanged from the flash estimate announced earlier this month.
The price increase in Q4 2020 was driven by the non-landed private home segment which saw home values rise by 3.0%, as all sub-markets achieved firmer prices during the quarter. In particular, non-landed private home prices in the Rest of Central Region (RCR) led the increase, climbing by 4.4% as new launches such as The Linq At Beauty World and The Landmark helped to prop up prices in this sub-market.
In the Core Central Region (CCR), private non-landed home prices were resilient despite the pandemic. CCR home values rose by 3.2% likely supported by the primary sales market where several previously launched projects posted higher median prices from Q3 to Q4. Meanwhile, the Clavon and Ki Residences At Brookvale– which were launched in December – helped to spur price growth in the Outside Central Region (OCR), which booked a 1.8% price increase in Q4. Notably, the median prices of Clavon and Ki Residences At Brookvale (in Q4 2020) at $1,637 psf and $1,766 psf, respectively, were higher than the OCR sub-market median price of $1,632 psf.
For the whole of 2020, private home prices climbed by 2.2%, following the 2.7% rise in 2019. As at Q4 2020, URA private residential property index, with a reading of 157 points, has reached a new high – being 1.6% above the recent peak in Q3 2013 (154.6 points).
According to the URA, developers sold 2,603 new private homes (excluding Executive Condos) in Q4 2020, taking total new home sales to 9,982 units in 2020 – up by 0.7% from the 9,912 units transacted in 2019. The resale private home market also witnessed keen demand, with transactions rising by 22.6% to 4,249 units, from 3,467 units in Q3 2020. For the full-year, resale transactions rose by 19.9% year-on-year to 10,729 units.
Ismail Gafoor, CEO of PropNex:
“2020 ended on a positive note with the private residential market undeterred by the pandemic challenges and economic downturn. Buoyed by growing optimism surrounding the vaccine roll-out in Singapore and the improving economy, home sales and prices strengthened further in Q4 2020, completing the remarkable turnaround in the second half of the year. We expect this momentum to continue; 2021 already started favourably as seen by the healthy take-up at Normanton Park, which reportedly sold 600 units over its launch weekend.
Many of the sales drivers – such as low interest rates, effective management of COVID-19, and economic recovery hopes - that fuelled the property market in 2020 will continue to spur buying interest this year. We project that 8,000 to 9,000 new private homes (ex. ECs) could be sold in 2021, which is lower than 2020’s sales volume mainly due to tighter supply rather than the lack of enthusiasm among buyers. In particular, we think the resale market is one to watch and expect resale transactions to exceed 10,000 units again in 2021, as the entry prices in the resale segment are seen to be more attractive compared to many new launches.
Home buying demand was firmly driven by local buyers in 2020, with Singaporeans accounting for about 82% of overall private residential transactions (new sale, resale and sub-sale). This is the highest proportion of private home purchases by Singaporeans since 2001 where they made up nearly 84% of the total sales, based on URA Realis data. We believe many local buyers take a mid- to long-term view of their property purchase and are motivated to enter the market last year to capitalise on the lower borrowing rates and attractive properties.
Recent announcement by the EDB about business investments hitting a 12-year high in 2020 at $17.2 billion is certainly encouraging. With hopes of Singapore returning to growth this year and a more optimistic outlook, we expect private home prices to climb slightly by 3% to 4% in 2021. Another factor that will lend support to prices is the declining unsold inventory which has dropped to 24,296 units (ex. ECs) as at the end of Q4 2020 from 26,483 units in the previous quarter. While we are generally positive about the outlook, the resurgence in COVID-19 cases, the uneven economic recovery, and weak employment sentiment remain the key risks this year. We think it is unlikely for home prices to spike sharply as buyers are still very price sensitive and cooling measures remained in place to curb any over-exuberance in the market.”
The Housing and Development Board (HDB) has also released its HDB Resale Price Index which showed that resale prices of public housing flats rose by 3.1% in Q4 2020, representing the largest quarterly increase in the HDB resale price index in over nine years, since the 3.8% price growth achieved in Q3 2011. The 3.1% print is marginally higher than the 2.9% growth indicated in the flash estimate released on 4 January 2020.
In the full-year 2020, HDB resale prices rose by 5% - the steepest annual price growth since 2012, where resale flat values rose by 6.5%. As at the end of Q4 2020, the HDB Resale Price Index is still 7.6% below the peak in Q2 2013.
According to the HDB, there were 7,642 resale flat transactions in Q4 2020, pushing full-year resale volume to 24,748 units in 2020 – 4.4% higher than the 23,714 units resold in 2019.
Wong Siew Ying, Head of Research and Content, PropNex:
“The latest set of data from the HDB, which showed a fairly strong rebound in HDB resale prices and robust sales should bring cheer to flat owners. HDB resale prices had fallen for six straight years from 2013 to 2018, so this 5% price growth in 2020 would be a welcome news for HDB flat owners. Given that HDB resale home values have remained muted for some time, we think the price increase in 2020 is measured, and we expect prices to potentially climb by another 3% to 5% this year.
We believe the buying interest should stay relatively healthy in 2021, as the rising supply of newer resale flats entering the market will help to stimulate demand and support prices. Typically, these newer flats are attractive to buyers because of the long remaining lease and higher value. In addition, being fairly new, they tend to be in better condition and would appeal to buyers who are looking to keep renovation cost low.
An estimated 25,530 HDB flats could reach their 5-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) in 2021 - higher than the 24,163 flats in 2020 – making them eligible to be sold on the resale market. Other factors that will support resale flat demand include generous housing grants for first-time buyers, concerns over construction delays for new Build-to-Order flats, and the low interest rate environment. We project that HDB resale transactions could cross 25,000 units in 2021.”