Published April 26, 2008

HDB resale transactions decline 6% in Q1

Median COV was $21,000, compared to $22,000 in Q407


TRANSACTIONS of resale HDB flats fell 6 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2007 to 6,360 in Q1 this year, against the backdrop of rising asking prices and high cash-over-valuation (COV) demands.

'With escalating resale prices and more and more COV transactions, we saw the resale market hit resistance in Q4 last year as HDB flat buyers do not have or are not willing to part with so much cash,' said property agency ERA's assistant vice-president Eugene Lim. 'This resistance carried through to the first quarter this year.'

In Q4 2007, a total of 6,750 resale flats changed hands, which was itself a 13 per cent drop from Q3 2007.

HDB's resale price index rose 3.7 per cent in Q1 this year compared with Q4 2007.

But this increase was lower than the 5.7 per cent quarter-on-quarter rise in Q4 2007.

The median COV of all resale flats in Q1 this year was $21,000, slightly down from $22,000 in Q4 2007.

In some estates, the drop was much larger.

The median COV of executive flats in Bishan, for instance, plunged $25,000-$45,000 in Q1 2008, and that of five-room flats in Marine Parade fell $15,000-$50,000.

On the resale price trend, PropNex CEO Mohamed Ismail believes an increase is sustainable in the long term and that double-digit growth this year is attainable, given the robust economy.

Mr Ismail reckons the falling COV reflects a smaller number of private property and en bloc downgraders in the market.

He expects the COV to stabilise at $20,000 islandwide for the year, as demand for resale flats increases and the number of surplus flats falls.

ERA's Mr Lim also expects the resale market to remain healthy for the rest of the year, though price growth may be more measured.

'For the whole year, we do not expect resale prices to increase more than 10 per cent,' he said.

He noted that some demand for resale flats may be diverted to the increasing number of new flats coming on stream.

'First-timers and those that can wait a couple of years are likely to go for new flats, as buying direct from HDB involves little or no cash outlay,' he said.

HDB said yesterday it plans to offer 5,000 new flats under the Build-To-Order (BTO) system during the next six months.

Together with 1,100 launched in Q1, the planned BTO supply of 6,100 new flats for January to September will exceed the numbers of BTO flats launched in 2007 or 2006, which were 6,000 and 2,400 respectively.