By Lynda Hong | Posted: 08 February 2013 1523 hrs

SINGAPORE

Resale prices of non-landed private residential units inched up 0.6 per cent in January, compared to December 2012, according to flash estimates released by the Singapore Real Estate Exchange (SRX).

SRX compiles data from 11 top property agencies in Singapore.

A rush to buy properties to beat the latest round of cooling measures pushed demand higher and raised prices last month.

Tough property cooling measures would usually drag property prices lower, but the latest round of measures seemed to have little impact on prices.

Resale prices of private homes rose in January — the same month when the latest cooling measures were introduced.

Analysts attributed the increase to buyers who were rushing to beat the deadline before the cooling measures kicked in.

Leading the rise were properties in the city fringes. Resale prices of non-landed private homes in those areas rose 2.5 per cent to an average of S$1,256 per square foot in January, compared to December 2012.

In the suburbs, resale prices rose 1.1 per cent on-month to S$997 per square foot.

Only private homes in the city, or core central region, saw resale prices dip 2.9 per cent on-month to $1,878 per square foot.

Steven Tan, OrangeTee’s managing director, said: “Based on the past experience when there were cooling measures, there would be a drop in volumes rather than prices. This time when I looked at the index, to my surprise, both didn’t come down.”

920 private units were resold in January, exceeding December’s 788 units by 16.7 percent.

The monthly resale volume in January was almost triple the 309 units sold in January 2012. SRX said this was mainly due to the Lunar New Year holidays falling in January 2012.

Experts said home owners have now moderated their price expectations on how much their units can fetch in the resale market.

Eugene Lim, ERA’s key executive officer, said: “Prior to cooling measures, you have a case where you have a moving goalpost syndrome, because the market was moving (upwards).

“Even though the agent was able to secure the asking price for the sellers, sometimes you find the sellers rejecting (it).” However, he added that this was not the scenario today.

Looking ahead, analysts said private home prices may soften, especially for new homes. This is because developers are offering aggressive discounts to move units amid the tougher market conditions.

Still, the ease of obtaining home loans at low borrowing rates will help prop up property transactions in the market while keeping property prices stable.

Meanwhile, rental prices for non-landed private homes in January rose 1.2 per cent, compared with December 2012.

This was led by a 3.8 per cent increase in the city fringes, followed by a 0.9 per cent appreciation in the core central region. The mass market segment saw rentals decline by 0.6 per cent.

On the HDB resale market, SRX said cash-over-valuation (COV) was S$34,000 in January, a S$1,000 increase over December 2012.

Overall, median prices for HDB flats remained fairly stable at S$457,000 in January, down 0.7 per cent on-month.

SRX said its member companies recorded 1,201 transactions in the HDB resale market. An estimated 300 transactions for January are still being processed. This will likely result in an estimated 1,500 HDB resale transactions in January 2013, compared to the 1,560 monthly average in the fourth quarter of 2012.

– CNA/al