Saturday, January 24, 2009

HDB resale prices inch up but demand falls by 24%

PRICES of Housing Board resale flats continue to defy the gloom, although the pace of increase is easing off a little.

Data from the last three months of last year show that prices inched up 1.4 per cent, following a robust surge of 4.2 per cent in the third quarter and 4.5 per cent in the second.

Valuations are still rising but not as much as before, said C&H Realty managing director Albert Lu.
HDB resale prices are supported by a relatively strong base of potential buyers, particularly for three- to four-room flats, said ERA Asia Pacific’s associate director, Mr Eugene Lim.

Experts say the impact of the gloomy economic outlook has seeped into the HDB market, reflected in the significant drop in the median cash-over-valuation portion for resale deals.

It fell from $19,000 in the third quarter to $15,000 in the fourth - a drop of 21 per cent - and back to levels last seen around the third quarter of 2007.

Demand was also down: Fourth-quarter resale deals fell 24 per cent to 6,186 transactions, while the number of resale deals for the whole year dipped 3 per cent from the figure in 2007.

Despite the relatively large fourth-quarter drop, property experts expect fairly strong demand as the continued economic slowdown will bring new buyers.

‘If the economy does not improve, there will be more downgraders and increasingly cautious home buyers in the wake of retrenchments and tighter budgeting,’ said PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail.

If the recession drags on, prices may fall, albeit marginally, said ERA’s Mr Lim, although C&H Realty’s Mr Lu said they could just level off.

‘This is about the peak for HDB (resale) prices, but they won’t fall immediately because there is demand and valuations are still holding,’ he said.

Median sub-let rents remained steady and owners are still keen to rent out their homes.

The total pool of HDB flats approved for sub-letting grew from 21,400 units in the third quarter to about 22,200 units in the fourth.

But demand has been hit. While sub-letting deals for the whole of last year grew by 20 per cent, the number of such deals for the fourth quarter fell 7 per cent to 3,690.

Source: Straits Times - 24 Jan 2009

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