Singapore's Housing and Development Board (HDB) resale market experienced a notable deceleration in 2023, with a 4.9% year-on-year increase – a significant drop from the 10.4% gain in the previous year and the 12.7% surge in 2021. The fourth quarter of 2023 saw a further slowdown, with resale prices rising by 1.1%, compared to the 1.3% growth in the preceding quarter. Various factors, including the timing of Build-to-Order (BTO) launches and government cooling measures, contributed to the evolving landscape.
1. BTO Launches Impact: The BTO launches in October and December emerged as a crucial factor affecting the resale market. Prospective homebuyers had the option of choosing brand-new flats at their preferred location, at a much lower entry price.
2. Cooling Measures: Government interventions, including a 15-month wait-out period for private homeowners seeking HDB resale flats and stricter borrowing criteria, impacted resale demand. These measures were introduced in September 2022 to ensure prudent borrowing amid rising interest rates.
Despite the slower price growth in the fourth quarter, it marked the 15th consecutive quarter of growth. A record-breaking 470 million-dollar flats changed hands in 2023, with 134 transactions occurring in the last quarter. However, these high-value transactions represented only 2.1% of all transactions in Q4 2023, indicating that they are still a minority in the market.
Bukit Merah, Toa Payoh, and Kallang/Whampoa were identified as the top three HDB towns with the highest number of million-dollar flats in 2023.
According to HDB resale transactions, in the central region, three-room HDB flats commanded the highest median resale price, reaching S$481,500, while Geylang registered the lowest at S$345,000.
In the case of four-room flats, Queenstown marked the highest median resale price at S$928,000, whereas Bukit Panjang recorded the lowest at S$503,000.
For five-room flats, Bukit Merah reported the highest median price at S$959,000, while Jurong West had the lowest at S$588,000.
Despite a 35% increase in the prices of four-room flats over the last five years, they remain more sought-after than other HDB flat types. Factors such as affordability and demand from younger families and downsizing seniors contribute to the sustained popularity of four-room flats. On average, four-room flats receive more inquiries than five-room flats, indicating a continued preference for smaller, more affordable units.
Those aged 55 and above who buy a four-room or smaller resale flat are exempted from the 15-month wait out period.
Property analysts foresee signs of a buyers' market as sellers contend with increased competition. The government's plan to launch an additional 37,000 flats over three years to meet the target supply of 100,000 flats from 2021 to 2025 may divert demand away from the resale market.
As Singapore's HDB resale market enters 2024, it does so against a backdrop of moderated price growth, evolving buyer preferences, and government measures aimed at maintaining stability. The interplay of factors such as BTO launches, cooling measures, and a growing supply of new flats will shape the trajectory of the housing market in the coming months. Both buyers and sellers must navigate this changing landscape, with a focus on market trends and government initiatives shaping the housing sector's future.