How Did the Singapore Real Estate Market Perform in Q1 2024?

Our Minister of National Development, Mr Desmond Lee, recently commented that despite the upward trend in prices for both HDB and private residential properties, there are signs of stabilisation in the property market.

With the release of Q1 2024 reports from URA and HDB, let’s delve deeper into the data and analyse the current trend in the real estate market.

HDB

As of now, HDB is on track to release a total of 100,000 flats between 2021 and 2025. During the February 2024 Built-To-Order (BTO) & Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise, HDB made available 4,126 flats across seven BTO projects, along with 1,588 balance flats, bringing the total to more than 67,000 flats from 2021.

In Q1 2024, the current HDB Resale Price Index (RPI) stands at 183.7, reflecting a 1.7% increase compared to the previous quarter. 

Although this growth rate is slightly higher than the 1.1% increase observed in Q4 2023, the overall trend indicates a stabilisation in the HDB resale market, with increases of 5.8% in 2023 compared to 8.8% in 2022.

Source: HDB

In my opinion, the majority of flats that contribute to this growth are coming from flats that are recently built (i.e. flats less than 20 years old). 

Quoting from our former minister Khaw Boon Wan, “Price of a 50-year-old HDB flat can appreciate over the next 10 years”, but the question is, “By how much?”

Furthermore, betting on Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) is not the way to go as it is not guaranteed. When the lease of the land reaches 0 years, it is to be returned to HDB, as seen from the Geylang Lorong 3 terrace houses.

During his conversation with reporters at the launch of the Greenfly Allotment Garden in Boon Lay on April 27, Mr Desmond Lee also took the opportunity to address concerns surrounding the growing prevalence of million-dollar HDBs. 

He shared that these HDBs tend to have more unique attributes such as jumbo flats, on a high floor, or near a transport node or mall. Thus, it is not representative of the overall HDB resale market.

For context, 61 resale flats broke the million-dollar mark in March 2024, out of the 2,063 resale flats that were sold in the same month. 

Source: HDB

Even though rental prices are still increasing in 2024, we can see that there is a slowdown in the growth in 2023.

The recent years have seen a concerning rise in rental prices, prompting the government to take action. Measures such as temporarily increasing the occupancy cap and introducing new long-stay service apartments have been implemented to address this issue.

Furthermore, with more supply pumped into the market, this further moderates the rental price. We can expect rental to slow down and normalise in the future with much more supply that are going to come into the market, such as 44 new launches.

The thing to note is that investors looking to buy property should not assume rental to continue increasing at the current pace, especially for landlords who are dependent on rental to cover their mortgage. It would be better to be more conservative with the expected rental.

 

Private Residential

The private residential market sees a similar trend to HDB flats in terms of house prices and rental. 

Source: URA

The current non-landed private residential property price index is at 196.1, an increase of 1.0% from the previous quarter. This is lower growth than the previous quarter which saw an increase of 2.3%.

Overall, the non-landed private residential market has slowed down significantly, with 2023 overall growth at 4.9%, which is less than half of the growth in 2022 at 11.2%. 

However, with the upcoming 44 new launches selling at “new launch prices”, this is likely to continue pushing the price index upwards.

Source: URA

Looking over to the non-landed private residential rental index, it is currently at 157.8, a decrease of 1.6% compared to the previous quarter. 

Overall, the private residential rental market has slowed down significantly, even seeing a slight decrease. This was due to huge projects that received their Temporary Occupation Licence (TOP) in the past few quarters, such as Normanton Park, Treasure at Tampines and Florence Residences. This injected a huge supply of rental housing into the market.

You may be wondering why there is such a huge increase in rental in 2022? One of the potential reasons could be due to Singapore reopening its borders in March 2022, allowing fully vaccinated travellers to come to Singapore. 

With this new influx of returning foreigners and expats, this creates a large demand for the rental market, thus increasing rental prices. But with new incoming supply and various measures as mentioned above, we can expect the rental market to cool down.

Source: URA

This is further supported by the vacancy rate decreasing to 6.8% from last quarter at 8.1%. As the vacant units get taken up, it is highly likely the rental market would start to normalise and see a healthier rate of growth.

Conclusion

Although we are seeing a slow start in 2024 for the property market, this does not necessarily mean it is a negative thing. 

There could be a few reasons for a slow start in the property market at the start of 2024. Firstly, there are a lot more upcoming options for potential homebuyers, as mentioned 44 new launches are coming into the market this year. 

Combined with 2023 balance units, homebuyers are spoilt for choice. There is also news about interest rates coming down.

Furthermore, new launch prices are trending up due to increased construction cost as well as material costs.

With all these factors coming into play, homebuyers are adopting a “wait-and-see” approach, hoping to secure a better choice and not rushing into a decision.

Who knows? There could potentially be a bull run in 2024 if new launches that are priced lower start popping up and interest rates start to fall.