HomeReal EstateAre Singapore Property Prices Getting Close To The Peak?
Singapore Property Prices In 2024 - Are The New Prices Sustainable?

Are Singapore Property Prices Getting Close To The Peak?

If We Had A Crystal Ball To Predict Singapore Property Prices...

Unfortunately we do not have one, but we do have statistics and data to analyse and to make an informed guesstimate into the future. The pent-up demand amid a disruption in supply seen during the last 3 years following the exit of circuit breaker implemented during the pandemic produced a fascinating upward trajectory in prices. It reversed a 7-year downward trend in HDB Resale Prices and we saw a record number of million dollar flats transacted. 

For private housing, new record prices are set in the RCR and OCR with new launch property prices crossing S$3,000 psf and S$2,000 psf respectively, which was attributed to higher land and construction costs. 

The Impact Of Increased Supply On Singapore Property Market

The government ramped up the construction of new Build-To-Order (BTO) and private housing units to balance demand and supply. Some 21,400 HDB flats and 21,300 private housing units were completed in 2023, totalling 43,000. Minister Desmond Lee notes that it is the largest number of homes completed across both the HDB and private markets in a given year – since 2018.

The increased supply has tapered demand for private and public residential property as both markets have shown signs of moderating and transaction volumes have decreased. The total number of private housing and HDB resale transactions have fallen by about 13% and 4%, respectively, in 2023, compared to 2022.

The BTO application rate among first-timer families for all flat types in 2023 was 1.9, lower than the pre-pandemic rate of 3.7 in 2019.
 
Property prices have also moderated, Minister Desmond Lee said in his address Building & Construction Authority-Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore’s Built Environment and Property Prospects Seminar on Jan 15. Based on the 4Q2023 flash estimates, the private residential price index increased at a slower pace of 6.7% in 2023, compared to 8.6% in 2022.
 
After a high of 43,000 new homes completed in 2023, another 28,000 are scheduled for completion this year, and an additional 24,000 in 2025. The total number of public and private homes completed from 2023 to 2025 is just under 100,000 units.
 
Minister Lee, therefore, concludes that Singapore property prices are unlikely to sustain the momentum they have seen in the past three years. “So, I encourage buyers to be prudent in their purchases to avoid overextending themselves,” he cautions.

External Risks Persist Into 2024

The elevated inflation means that the US Federal Reserve is not cutting interest rates anytime soon although markets continue to speculate that a rate cut is imminent. The higher interest rates are causing concerns that economic growth could stall as businesses are reeling from the impact of the difficulty to obtain credit and service loans.

Geopolitical tensions have escalated significantly in 2024 with conflicts in the Middle East and Europe showing no signs of abating. With the United States having a vested interest in both conflicts, it is racking up significant pressure on its own debt that runs in the trillions of dollars. 

Increased Retrenchment Rate In Singapore

The number of retrenchments in Singapore climbed in the third quarter of 2023, even as the labour market expanded for eight consecutive quarters, according to early data from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

This is the highest number of quarterly retrenchments since Q4 2020 during Covid-19. This brings year-to-date retrenchment figures to 11,120 – a near doubling of the 6,440 recorded in the whole of last year.

Retrenchment Exercises:

February 2023: Google laid off 190 in Singapore

June 2023: Singapore-based Grab cuts 1,000 jobs

January 2024: Lazada Singapore laid off around 100 staff members

January 2024: Unilever announced job cuts and relocations within Singapore teams

February 2024: Google laid off 100 YouTube staff in Singapore

Singapore Private Home Prices Are Unaffordable

Singapore’s private homes are now the most expensive in Asia-Pacific, having overtaken Hong Kong, according to a new report.

Data from the Home Attainability Index from the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Asia Pacific Centre for Housing showed the median price of Singapore’s private homes was US$1.2 million in 2022, compared to Hong Kong’s US$1.16 million.

Private rental homes in Singapore also had the highest monthly rent in the region at US$2,600 — “far exceeding” other cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Hong Kong, according to the report. 

Despite Singapore’s private homes being the most expensive in the region, the city state also has the highest homeownership rate at 89.3%. 

That’s in spite of a 7.9% increase of median HDB prices from 2021 to 2022, with the ratio of median HDB price to median annual income also rising from 4.5 to 4.7. HDB, or the Housing Development Board, is Singapore’s public housing authority.

For private homes in Singapore, the ratio is 13.7. The median income from work of households in Singapore was S$10,869 a month in 2023, breaching S$10,000 for the second year in a row.

“In general, homeownership is considered unaffordable when the ratio of the median home price to median annual household income exceeds five,” said the report. 

“By this standard, only Singapore’s Housing Development Board (HDB) units and apartment units in Melbourne and Brisbane, Australia, are considered affordable.” 

Summary

The Government is determined to manage property prices in Singapore to prevent a mismatch in income levels and a housing bubble. We have seen them implement cooling measures by increasing buyer’s stamp duties, additional buyer’s stamp duties and new restrictions in purchasing HDB resale flats. They have also pushed for a forward increase in supply through BTO launches and Government Land Sales. However if property prices start a downward momentum, will the Government start to roll back some of the earlier cooling measures? It is likely because a few measures such as the 15-month wait out period for ex private property owners to buy a HDB resale flat are temporary.

On the ground, we are not seeing buyers take immediate action as witnessed previously. The market sentiment is shifting back to 2018 and 2019 period when buyers have the luxury of time to make decisions and sellers have to take proactive action to adjust to market expectations. It is prudent to heed the Government’s direction that property prices in Singapore will moderate and adjust accordingly to prevailing market conditions. 

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