Chief Editor May 01 2023

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5 Ways To Work Around The Crazy Rental Market In Singapore

Life in Singapore is idyllic in many ways -- it’s safe, convenient, and comfortable. But it comes with a caveat, a hefty price tag. And by far, the hardest hit by recent price hikes is the rental market here. Rental prices for private housing shot up at the fastest pace in 15 years last year.

In February this year, a top bunk bed in a HDB in Pasir Ris was listed for rent at S$600 a month. That’s the state of our crazy rental market. But all is not lost, there are ways to work around the current situation.

Know Where To Look

If you’re new to the property game, renting a place can be daunting. It’s important to know where to start looking. The most convenient and budget-friendly option is to make use of online property portals. Sites - like the one you’re reading right now - let you browse, filter listings, and directly contact the agent or landlord.

Besides that, word-of-mouth referral from friends or family is a great way to help you get a better deal on rental costs. That being said, if you’ve never rented a property before, you might want to consider using a property agent. After all, they do know the market best and can advise you on the best course of action. Plus, they’ll handle all the paperwork, ensuring a smooth transaction.

Check Out HDB Flats Over Private Property

Rental rates are now at a six-year high. If you take a closer look, condominium rents rose 34.4% year-on-year in 2022 while HDB flat rents increased 28.5%. Rental costs tend to be based on size and centrality of a flat but in general, HDBs cost less to rent compared to private condominiums.

HDBs, especially the newer ones, are of high quality and have similar standards to condominiums. And while HDB flats do not come with the built-in amenities that condominiums do, they do have their own charm. Public housing neighbourhoods are usually self-sufficient, and in close proximity to coffee shops, shopping centres, wet markets, schools, swimming pools, and parks. With the current rental prices, it will be wise to consider renting a HDB flat as an alternative to private property.

Consider “Less Convenient” Locations

Ideally, many would want to stay in the most convenient central locations, with an MRT station at their doorstep. However, these rental units will be in higher demand and command a higher asking price. If you can compromise on location, you’ll be able to get yourself a home at a more budget-friendly price.

One approach you can take is looking for a unit just a few MRT stations away from popular locations. After all, with Singapore’s world-class public transport system, the short travel time will just be a small price to pay in comparison to the hundreds of dollars you might save every month.

Be Clear & Specific When Making An Offer

Given the current rental market, it’s safe to assume that when you’re considering renting a unit, you will face stiff competition. One way to catch the eye of landlords or property agents is to be specific when making an offer on a unit.

Rather than simply stating your interest, include some additional details. Let them know if you are a single tenant, a couple, a group of friends, or a family. Information like your gender, occupation, and willingness to help keep the unit clean, will help to reassure the landlord and grab their attention. Ultimately, put yourself in your potential landlord’s shoes and assure them you would be a good tenant.

Sign a Longer Lease or Pay More Lease Upfront

Oftentimes, landlords may be willing to settle for a lower price if you can sign a longer lease of at lease two years or pay for more of the lease upfront. This will give you a leg up in lease negotiations. 

A More Normal Rental Market Might Be Ahead

At the end of the day, if you’re still mulling over the less-than-ideal expensive housing options, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Mr Chia, Managing Director of Propertyforsale Pte Ltd, believed that rental prices have peaked. Demand for rental housing is gradually settling back to pre-pandemic levels while supply is increasing due to more TOP condominiums.

Landlords are becoming more realistic about the situation as their properties sit vacant for longer periods. A downtrend in rental prices might just be in the books in the second half of 2023.