By Olivia Siong | Posted: 29 October 2012 1022 hrs


Singapore’s private home prices in the third quarter rose 0.6 per cent from the previous quarter.

This is the highest rate of increase this year compared to the 0.1-per cent drop in the first quarter and the 0.4-per cent increase in the second quarter.

It was also higher than the flash estimate of 0.5 per cent released earlier this month.

Meanwhile, resale prices of Housing & Development Board (HDB) flats in Singapore hit a record high.

HDB’s Resale Price Index (RPI) rose from 194 in the second quarter of this year to 197.9 in the third quarter.

This represents an increase of two per cent over the previous quarter, the same as that of the flash estimate released on October 1.

But with a bumper crop of 27,000 Build-to-Order flats being rolled out this year, analysts said the resale market may be showing signs of moderating.

Growth for the first three-quarters of this year is 3.9 per cent. This is lower than the annual RPI growth of 14.1 per cent in 2010, and 10.7 per cent last year.

Donald Han, special advisor at HSR Property Consultants, said: “Buyers who are able to wait for the product to be completed in 24 to 36 months are getting better value proposition in terms of cheaper prices, and perhaps better amenities compared to one who’s buying a resale flat.”

The volume of resale transactions also fell for the first time in 12 months. Resale transactions also fell by about six per cent from 7,011 cases in second quarter to 6,560 cases in the third.

The last fall in resale transactions was in the third quarter of last year when transactions fell from 6,581 in the second quarter, to 5,903 in the third.

Analysts said that this might not be because buyers are staying away, but because there is a short supply of resale flats in the market.

They added that this has pushed the median cash-over-valuation (COV) up by S$4,000 to S$5,000 compared to the last quarter.

According to real estate firm Propnex, COVs hovered between S$25,000 and $28,000 in the first two quarters, before rising to $30,000 in Q3. This means a 20 per cent increase quarter-on-quarter.

Chris Koh, director of Chris International, said: “Regardless of whether there are BTO flats, if private property prices are too high, many are unable to afford private property. So they turn to a resale market to buy a flat instead. So you still see a strong demand from those not eligible to buy brand new flats, those who can’t afford private property and have to buy a resale flat.

“There’s one more group, I call them the ‘downgraders’. They have cashed out their private property, that’s why they don’t mind paying a premium for some of these resale flats.”

In the rental market, subletting transactions rose by about four per cent.

The number of cases increased from 6,891 in the second quarter to 7,142 cases in the third quarter.

The total number of HDB flats approved for subletting also rose to 42,920 units in the third quarter, compared to 41,814 units in the second.

Mr Han said: “In the last five years, prices have not gone south. In fact, prices have grown by 92 to 93 per cent since five years ago… So, a lot of the able sellers are keeping it for hopefully higher capital returns for the next 12 months.

“If you look into a rental proposition, HDB rental flats – if you look at average four-room or five-room, you’re looking at roughly about S$2,000 to S$2,500 per month. It provides a very good fertile ground support for tenants out in the market looking for cheap accommodation.

“The yield coming from HDB apartments is fairly attractive as well, compared to other classes of residential property. We’re looking at yields of 4.5 to five per cent, compared to private properties which would be about 2.5 to about 3.5 per cent.”

Mr Koh added: “I’m not sure if there’s a co-relation, but I won’t deny that if prices of resale flats are too high, some would not be able to afford it. So the next best option will be to rent and wait for prices to come down.”

The HDB said it introduced a new e-service on Monday to enable the public to search for the market rentals of entire HDB flats rented out by owners. It is hoped that this will allow better transparency in the subletting market, and help potential tenants and flat owners make informed decisions.

– CNA/xq/ac