June 25, 2009
Boom in resale homes
Transactions up 71% in the second quarter, with HDB upgraders driving demand
By Joyce Teo
THE mini boom that started in the sale of new flats has now spread to the resale homes market, with transactions rocketing 71 per cent in the second quarter.
Sellers have quickly become attuned to the unexpected resurgence in demand and are jacking up asking prices, according to consultants Jones Lang LaSalle.
Much of the demand is coming from HDB upgraders who are still able to get reasonable prices for their flats, allowing them to move up the housing ladder.
The activity in the resale market follows strong sales of new private homes. Levels have exceeded 1,000 units every month since February compared with a monthly average of 330 units last year. Prices are also showing resilience amid the downturn, with resale prices beginning to rise in all categories.
The property sector rallies seem to contradict prevailing economic realities, industry experts acknowledge. DTZ's head of Southeast Asia research, Ms Chua Chor Hoon, told a property seminar yesterday that it is too early to tell if the Singapore market is on its way to recovery: 'Unlike Hong Kong, we don't have a China behind us.'
Jones Lang LaSalle's head of research for Southeast Asia, Dr Chua Yang Liang, told The Straits Times: 'My concern is that the price rise in the resale market is not supported by economic growth or personal income growth.' It is instead largely backed by money earned in the previous bull run, which is not sustainable, he said.
Resale demand, said Jones Lang LaSalle, is largely for finished projects, driven by the need for immediate occupation and good rental yields. Prelimary second-quarter estimates show HDB upgraders accounted for 46 per cent of resale deals, up 11 percentage points from a year ago.
HDB prices have not fallen much, so owners can still sell at attractive prices and upgrade to a private home. The demand has pushed up resale prices, even though affordability remains key.
While prices of freehold units were down 14.6 per cent on a per square foot (psf) basis in the second quarter, new mass market home prices were up nearly 7 per cent, said a CBRE Research statement yesterday. Subsale prices of 99-year leasehold apartments rose by 22 per cent in the second quarter.
When compared with prime market sectors, the mass market segment shows the highest rebound, said Jones Lang LaSalle. Average resale prices were up 9.4 per cent to $580 psf in the second quarter compared with the first quarter.
They are now 49 per cent above the low point of the second quarter of 2005 but remain about 17 per cent below the first quarter peak last year.
Average resale prices of prime luxury homes rose 7.8 per cent from the first quarter to $1,800 psf in the second quarter. But this is a fall of 45 per cent from the second quarter of 2008.
Some buyers are increasingly more willing to commit as they believe this discount is sufficient, said Jones Lang LaSalle. For instance, resale deals at Ardmore Park were done at an average of $2,146 psf in the second quarter compared with one deal at $1,976 psf in the first quarter.
Some analysts warn of too much exuberance given the ample supply and falling rents but others are more positive. A recent Credit Suisse report said that while new homes sales may slow, the resale market is likely to pick up the slack. An earlier UBS Investment Research report highlighted the rise in resale deals as evidence of sustainable recovery in the physical property market.