Private home prices in Singapore eased by 0.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year, after inching up 0.5 per cent the previous quarter, according to data released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Friday.
This marked a 7.9 per cent increase in the private property price index for the whole of 2018, as compared to the 1.1 per cent increase in 2017.
The Q4 statistics released were in line with URA’s initial flash estimates.
By segment, non-landed home prices rose 0.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018, after being unchanged in the third quarter.
The key drag appeared to be landed properties, whose prices fell by 2 per cent in the fourth quarter, after rising 2.3 per cent in the previous quarter.
For non-landed homes, prices in the Core Central Region (CCR) declined by 1 per cent, compared with the 1.3 per cent increase in the previous quarter. The Rest of Central Region (RCR) saw an increase by 1.8 per cent, rebounding from a 1.3 per cent drop, while the Outside Central Region (OCR) posted an increase by 0.7 per cent, compared with the 0.1 per cent dip in the previous quarter.
For the whole of 2018, prices of landed homes rose by 6.3 per cent while that of non-landed properties climbed 8.3 per cent. For non-landed properties in the CCR, RCR and OCR, the increases were 6.7 per cent, 7.4 per cent and 9.4 per cent respectively.
The index had rallied 7.4 per cent in the first half of the year before July’s cooling measures and revised development control guidelines later in the year took their toll on the market.
Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie, said: “Prices of private homes have risen mainly in the first two quarters of last year as many new homes were sold at relatively high prices on the back of the market exuberance seen in the latest collective sales cycle.”
But with cooling measures in play, the price growth of new homes is expected to slow down significantly this year. Ms Sun estimates that overall prices of private residential homes may rise by just one to three per cent for the whole of this year.
Desmond Sim, head of research for Singapore and South-east Asia for CBRE, said he expects a “more moderate and sustainable pace of growth in prices, with take-up to be driven by the pace of launches.”
Private home rents fell 1.0 per cent, compared to a 0.3 per cent increase in the third quarter, weighed down by landed properties. But for the whole of 2018, rents of private residential properties edged up 0.6 per cent, compared with the decline of 1.9 per cent in 2017.
The vacancy rate for the private housing market, which excludes executive condominiums (ECs), dropped to 6.4 per cent at the end of the fourth quarter from 6.8 per cent in the third quarter.
Ms Sun said: “The improving vacancy rate and rentals for 2018 may indicate that the leasing market could be on the road to recovery….The withdrawal of existing stock from collective sales sites making way for newer housing units may also bode well for the leasing market.”
LAUNCH AND TAKE-UP RATES
Developers launched for sale 1,657 uncompleted private residential units (excluding ECs) in the fourth quarter, compared with 3,754 units in the previous quarter. As for take-up, developers sold 1,836 private residential units (excluding ECs) in the fourth quarter compared with the 3,012 units sold in the previous quarter.
For all of 2018, developers launched 8,769 uncompleted private residential properties, down from 6,020 units in the previous year; and sold some 8,795 private homes, compared with 10,566 units in the previous year.
While no ECs were launched in the quarter, developers sold 29 such units from previous launches. In all, for the whole of 2018, developers launched 628 EC units and sold 1,136 EC units, compared with the 1,555 units launched and 4,011 units sold in 2017.
The year ahead will see a bumper crop projects entering the market, to the tune of close to 50 new launches, he estimates.
He said: “We are expecting that strategically positioned properties that provide locality appeal and those that are sensitively priced, will continue to garner interest in 2019. Hence, we believe that the new sale segment will likely to achieve a total of 9,000 units sold in 2019.”
As of the fourth quarter, there was a total supply of 51,498 uncompleted private residential units (excluding ECs) in the pipeline with planning approvals, compared with the 50,330 units in the previous quarter. Of this number, 34,824 units remained unsold in Q4, up from 30,467 units in Q3.
In addition, there is a pipeline of 2,834 EC units, of which 825 units remain unsold.
A total of 35,649 units (including ECs) with planning approval remained unsold as of the fourth quarter, up from 31,295 units in the previous quarter.
Apart from housing already in the pipeline, there is also a potential supply of 9,800 units (including ECs) from Government Land Sales (GLS) sites and awarded en-bloc sale sites that have not been granted planning approval yet.