HDB flats in Hougang. Photo: The Straits Times
Resale prices for Housing Board flats recorded the slightest of falls last month. Overall prices slid by 0.1 per cent after inching up 0.2 per cent in February, according to SRX Property flash figures released yesterday.
The latest drop was driven by prices of three-room, four-room and executive flats, which were down by 0.8 per cent, 0.2 per cent and 1.6 per cent respectively. Five-roomer prices, however, rose by 0.7 per cent.
Prices have stayed virtually flat over the past year, creeping up only 0.1 per cent from March last year. ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim said he does not expect much fluctuation in the coming months. "Prices have limited headroom to appreciate as the slowing economy and loan curbs put a lid on any pricing exuberance," he said, referring to existing property cooling measures.
Noting that data on recent transactions is publicly available, he added that buyers are expected to remain conservative when making purchase offers.
R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng said the increase in five-room flat prices could be a "random occurrence". "Prudent buyers feel five-room flats are more extravagant choices compared to four-room flats," he said, adding that four-roomers are big enough for many families.
Prices in mature estates dropped by 0.3 per cent last month, while those in non-mature estates stayed flat. Mr Ong believes this could be due to some buyers holding back because of the launch of new flats in February, which included some in the sought-after district of Bidadari.
Still, the number of HDB flats that changed hands on the resale market went up in March after dropping for the previous four months. Some 1,651 flats were sold last month, up from 1,200 in February. By comparison, 1,348 units were resold in March last year.
Mr Ong said the increased volume reflects pent-up interest from buyers after the Chinese New Year period, when many people choose not to make property transactions. Mr Lim said the rise in transactions indicates the perennial attraction of resale flats to potential homeowners.
He observed: "As the majority of Build-To-Order flats are launched in non-mature estates, buyers who prefer to live in other areas would turn to the resale market."
This article first appeared in The Straits Times.