Singapore residential market on track to break last year’s figures
The 2021 private homes sales volume is poised to surpass the 20,909 sold in 2020.
It has been a “two steps forward, one step back” game in Singapore’s residential property market as property players experience a hopeful recovery during the first quarter of the year before another round of economic uncertainty as new outbreaks of COVID-19 were reported and the city had to go weeks of another circuit breaker.
Property analysts all agreed that despite tightened measures in the second quarter (Q2) due to several circuit breaker implementations, private sale volumes and prices have largely withstood it all.
According to OrangeTee, the overall price index for private residential properties increased by 0.8% in Q2 2021, the fifth consecutive quarterly increase. Notably, however, this is a slower rate compared to 3.3% growth last year.
“Demand for residential properties has been resilient this year despite the heightened alert measures. A total of 16,549 private homes (excluding executive condominiums) have been sold. The full-year sales for 2021 are poised to surpass the 20,909 inked in 2020,” Senior Vice President of Research & Analytics at OrangeTee Christine Sun said.
In OrangeTee’s Private Residential Market Report, the price increase in Q2 was driven mainly by non-landed homes in Outside Central Region (OCR) which rose by 1.9% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ). Prices rose the fastest for the OCR where supply is leanest.
In contrast, however, the price increment was less significant for the Core Central Region (CCR) at 1.1% and 0.1% in the Rest of Central Region (RCR).
Re-tightening of measures did only little to quench market appetite.
According to CBRE Southeast Asia’s Head of Research Tricia Song, despite the re-tightening of measures in late July and only one major launch of Pasir Ris 8, July’s developer sales surged 82.2% month-on-month to 1,589 units, demonstrating continued strength in demand for homes, particularly in the suburbs.
The circuit breaker actually helped the market as Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) measures cooled the market down without the need for government interference.
New sale vs resale market
The resale market dominated most of the first half of 2021.
Sun said that new home sales dipped 15.1% from 3,493 units in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021 to 2,966 units in Q2. The slower market was due to movement restrictions during Singapore’s heightened alert period in May.
In contrast, the number of resale transactions rose by 18% QoQ from 4,519 units in Q1 2021 to 5,333 units in Q2 2021,
“This is the highest quarterly resale volume since Q3 2009 (5,809 units). More buyers have turned to the resale market as there are fewer new launches in the suburban region,” Sun added.
Meanwhile, CBRE’s Song added that the price gap between resale and new sale market may have been widening because of the decaying lease of older projects (if they are leasehold), age, and depreciation of the older buildings, facilities, and designs.
“Older projects may also tend to be larger in floor plan, and less efficient in today’s context, hence commanding a lower price per square foot,” Song pointed out.
PropertyGuru Singapore's country manager, Dr. Tan Tee Khoon, added the resale or secondary market transactions formed close to 60% of total private residential sales and that developers’ new launches took a backseat due to Phase 2 Heightened Alert.
"This indicates that some homeowners in Singapore may be in urgent need of accommodation, and resale properties would work better for them," Tan observed.
Despite circuit breaker cooling down the market, luxury home sales still achieved 11-year sales high.
1,795 were sold during Q2, the highest quarterly sales recorded since the all-time high of 1,876 units sold in Q4 of 2010.
OrangeTee attributed the stellar sales to a few luxury projects being launched in the CCR in Q2, including Irwell Hill Residences, One Bernam, and Park Nova. Moreover, some developers conducted sales promotions to drive sales for selected units.
The best-selling luxury projects were Irwell Hill Residences (332 units), Hyll on Holland (85 units), One Bernam (81 units), Leedon Green (54 units), Fourth Avenue Residences (46 units), D’Leedon (24 units), Pullman Residence Newton (22 units), 8 Saint Thomas (22 units), Midtown Modern (22 units), Royalgreen (21 units) and The Avenir (21 units).
According to OrangeTee’s data, the Q2 overall average price of non-landed luxury homes in CCR dipped by 1.4% from $2,347 per square foot (psf) in Q1 2021 to $2,314 psf in Q2 2021.
The average price of new non-landed homes slipped marginally by 2.2% from $2,719 psf in Q1 2021 to $2,660 psf in Q2 2021. Over the same period, the average price of resale non-landed homes declined 0.9% from $1,988 psf to $1,971 psf.
Another trend in prime landed and non-landed residential properties is the demand for larger spaces grew.
According to Knight Frank’s data, many are leaning towards larger floorplates to accommodate both living and working in the comfort of their homes. Additionally, demand for larger non-landed homes in the prime districts increased.
In the first half (H1) of 2021 alone, the prime non-landed residential segment recorded a flurry of deals amounting to $2b, the highest since H2 2010 where sales within the luxury market segment totalled some $2.4b. Rebounding from the pandemic-led recession last year, the sales activity in H1 2021 was double the amount of $1.0b registered in the latter half of 2020 and surpassed the S$1.7b transacted in the whole year 2020.
The increase in demand for luxury residences is also hugely boosted by foreign millenials in Singapore.PropertyGuru's latest Consumer Sentiment Study (CSS) found out that one in three millennials in Singapore (32%) seek to purchase a luxury property in the long run, with the majority citing this purchase as a dependable long-term investment (66%).
The market may have experienced a slow down in Q2, but analysts agree that barring unforeseen circumstances, the market will likely recover by end of 2021.
“With YTD tally at over 80% of 2020’s full-year take-up, we expect 2021 new developer sales to come in at around 11,000 units, exceeding 2020’s 9,982 units. With prices up 4.1% year-to-June, CBRE Research expects private home prices to rise by 6.0% to 8.0% for the full year, barring any unforeseen circumstances,” CBRE’s Song said.
Meanwhile, KF Singapore’s Tay said that the market will continue to be bolstered by genuine demand from buyers working in sectors that benefitted economically from the pandemic, such as technology and pharmaceuticals, as well as some HDB upgraders.
“Given the volume of genuine buyers and the current opportune moment where these buyers can benefit from low-interest rates before these are raised, demand for private homes is expected to remain strong. Therefore, overall private residential prices are projected to increase within the range of around 7% to 9%, whilst rents could rise 5% to 8% for the whole of 2021,” he added.
OrangeTee’s Sun added total resale volume will surpass 2019 and 2020 volume.
“Buyers looking for affordable homes may continue to turn to the resale market in the suburban regions or selected city fringe areas. Therefore, this year’s resale volume is estimated to hit 17,000 to 18,000 units, which will surpass the total resale volume in 2019 and 2020,” Sun added.
PropertyGuru Singapore's Tan, observed that whilst there is a clear trend that property prices are rising across both the private and HDB market, prices have remained relatively stable with no major price correction
"Given that mortgage rates are likely to remain affordable in 2021 given its close correlation to federal reserve rates where interest rates are expected to be kept near zero, at least until 2023, both property demand and supply will remain positive driven by genuine buyers and HDB upgraders. Further, the government has shared on 30 June 2021, during a media briefing on the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Annual Report, that they “do not think the market is overheated right now” and thus unlikely any property curbs this year," Tan added.