Housing Board resale prices increased marginally in the second quarter of 2020 amid the Covid-19 break, compared with the first quarter of the year.

The resale price index was 131.8, up 0.2 per cent from the previous quarter, according to HDB flash estimates released on Wednesday (July 1).

The prices rose marginally after staying flat in the first quarter of the year.

The final figures, with more detailed public housing data, will be released on July 24.

HDB said that it will offer about 7,800 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats in Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Chua Chu Kang, Geylang, Pasir Ris, Tampines, Tengah and Woodlands in August.

Another 5,700 flats in Bishan, Sembawang, Tampines, Tengah and Toa Payoh will be available in November.

Of these, the flats in Chua Chu Kang, Tampines North and Tengah will have a shorter waiting time.

OrangeTee and Tie’s head of research and consultancy Christine Sun said that prices of HDB resale flats had remained relatively stable over the last two quarters, considering that “the macroeconomy is now in completely uncharted waters”.

However, she noted that the HDB resale volume had plummeted significantly in the last quarter, with only 789 resale flat transactions in April and May.

Compared with the same period in 2019 when 3,985 resale flats were sold, Ms Sun said that last quarter’s low resale volume can be largely attributed to the pandemic, and the barring of house viewings during the circuit breaker period.

“Physical house viewings are important for the resale market as most buyers would prefer a physical inspection of the premises before making a purchase. They may want to examine the condition of the units and assess the surrounding environment,” she said.

Therefore, since physical house viewings cannot be conducted, resale demand had “naturally” declined.

However, she noted that despite the low sales volume, prices remained relatively firm, indicating that there is little panic selling in the market during the pandemic, which is likely thanks to the hefty stimulus package rolled out by the Government in recent months.

“We will likely not see huge price cuts as long as the economy does not deteriorate badly and the unemployment rate remains moderate. We may expect the overall HDB resale price to trend between -2 per cent and 1 per cent this year,” she said.

In addition, home owners may view their properties differently amid the circuit breaker period, and many may value their homes more given the work-from-home arrangements. As a result, many may be unwilling to sell their units at highly discounted prices.

In the long run, however, other factors such as the supply of BTO flats and the number of flats reaching the minimum occupation period could have a greater impact on the HDB resale market, Ms Sun added.

Originally published in The Straits Times.