Alert on Soaring Home Prices

Residential Market Watch Q4 2021

Residential market kept up buoyant pace

The rise of home prices picked up speed in Q4 2021 to register 5% q-o-q after a 1.1% gain in Q3 2021. This is also the highest quarterly growth since Q2 2010. in total, home prices surged by 10.6% in 2021, the highest  y-o-y growth since Q1 2011.

The strong surge in home prices was supported by  the healthy sale of 7,925 homes from both new projects and resale market in Q4 2021. This brings the whole year sales volume to 33,557 units, the highest since 2012.

This buoyant prices and demand of the private residential market were also mirrored in the public housing market where HDB resale flat prices rose 12.7% y-o-y on the back of a sales volume of 31,017 flats, the highest since 2010. As a result, the government announced a package of new cooling measures which took effect from 16 December 2021.

The measures, aimed at checking price growth and demand for investment purposes, included raising the additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD) and restricting home loans.

By housing types, prices of landed homes gained 3.9% q-o-q in Q4 2021. For the whole year, there was a gain of 13.3% compared to a 1.2% y-o-y growth in 2020. It was a sellers’ market because there were more buyers than what were available for sale.

Prices of non-landed homes grew by 5.3% q-o-q in Q4 2021, translating to a 9.8% rise for the whole year. Prices of properties in the Rest of Central Region (RCR)   showed the fastest growth of 6.7% q-o-q, followed by 5.7% in Outside Central Region (OCR) and  2.7% in the Core Central Region (CCR). For the whole year, RCR prices saw an exceptional gain of 16.7% attributable to new launches like The Reef At King’s Dock, Normanton Park, One-North Eden and Canninghill Piers. Y-o-y, prices for OCR and CCR grew by 8.8% and 3.8% respectively.

Market dynamics

Developers launched 2,275 new homes for sale in Q4 2021, of which only 926 units were from new projects while the rest were from ongoing projects. In total, 10,496 new homes were supplied to the market, similar to the 10,883 launched in 2020.   

The two major launches in November did very well. Canninghill Piers, located at Clarke Quay by the Singapore River, is part of an integrated development that will include CanningHill Square mall, a 475-room hotel and a 192-unit serviced residence. A total of 538 units (77%) of the leasehold project were sold at the first weekend of launch, achieving a median price of $2,886 psf. The sole penthouse of size 8,956 sq ft was sold for $48 mil or $5,360 psf. The other new launch, The Commodore at Canberra Drive, saw a take up rate of 74% or 162 of the 219 units in the project at $1,511 psf. 

A total of 3,018 new homes were sold in Q4 2021, leading to the grand total of 13,027 units sold for the whole of 2021. This is 16% higher than the 9,982 units sold in 2020, and is also the highest sales volume since 2013.

Homebuyers bought 4,748 resale homes in the quarter, 11% lower than the 5,362 homes sold in Q3 2021. In all, 19,962 resale homes were sold in 2021, 86% higher than the volume of 10,729 in 2020. Of this number, some 3,600 units (18%) were landed homes, the highest number since 2010.  Landed homes have become hugely popular after the Circuit Breaker (April-June 2020) and the subsequent requirement to work from home and for home-based learning which made people realized the need for more living space. Due to the strong demand in 2021, we reckon that most of the sellers who wanted to sell have sold their properties. This means that fewer resale landed homes will be offered for sale in 2022.

2021 also saw a significant increase of 62% foreign and permanent resident (PR) buyers to 5,769 compared to 3,553 in 2020. One of the reasons for this spike could be the rise of some 10% in rents across the island and different housing types. Knowing that they could benefit from future price appreciation, some foreigners and PRs chose to buy their own place instead of renting. The top five nationalities of buyers in 2021 came from China, Malaysia, India, Indonesia and  the USA.

The luxury market slowed down to 166 deals in Q4 2021, compared with the 176 deals in Q3 2021. This included 149 luxury apartments, five bungalows in Sentosa Cove and 12 bungalows in the Good Class Bungalow (GCB) areas. Significant deals included a 12,077-sq ft super penthouse at Les Maisons Nassim that was sold for $75.0 mil ($6,210 psf) in October and a GCB at Yarwood Avenue that was sold to crypto billionaire Zhu Su and his wife for $48.80 mil as a trust for their 3-year son ($1,532 psf) in October.

For the whole year, a total of 665 luxury homes had been sold, comprising 550 apartments, 26 bungalows at Sentosa Cove and 89 GCBs.

Rental market & vacancy

Buoyed by rising rents, the URA rental index registered a 2.6% q-o-q growth in Q4 2021. This stronger growth than the 1.8% rise in Q3 2021 could be attributed to a rise in demand for rental flats as a result of construction delays. More and more families who had sold their flats but unable to move in to their new homes were in need of interim housing. The rents in CCR rose by 2.9% q-o-q, followed by 2.8% for RCR and 2.4% in OCR. For the whole year, islandwide rents went up by 9.9%, a strong recovery from the 0.6% contraction in 2020.

Given the strong rental market, the number of vacant homes fell by 4.7% to 23,060 units reflecting a vacancy rate of 6.0%, down from 6.4% in the previous quarter.

URA reported that 2,055 new homes were completed in Q4 2021, including Park Colonial (805 units), Margaret Ville (309 units) and Royalgreen (285 units). This brings the total private housing stock to 382,195 homes.

Supply in the pipeline

In Q4 2021, some of the new residential projects which have obtained Written Permission were Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1 (372 units), The Arden (105 units) and a project at Bukit Timah Road (56 units).

According to the URA, there was a total supply of 46,276 uncompleted private homes in the pipeline with planning approvals at the end of Q4 2021, lower than the 47,715 units in Q3 2021. Of this number, 14,154 (31%) were still unsold, a reduction of 42% from 24,296 units at end-2020. Some 8,865 units (63%) of the 14,154 units were from projects that were either launched or not launched yet and 5,289 units (37%) from projects without the prerequisites for sale.

Based on recent take-up trends, the 14,154 units would not be enough to meet two years of demand for new homes. As development sites sold by the government land are highly competitive, developers turned to private collective sales market as an alternative. However. This was short-lived as the latest cooling measures saw developer’s ABSD raised from 25% to 35%, on top of the 5% non-remissible ABSD. Developers will have to assess the price of the land against the increased ABSD risk to determine whether to proceed.

During the quarter, developers bought two sites from the government land sales (GLS) programme and seven sites from the private supply which could potentially supply 6,300-6,500 new homes in the near future.

The two GLS sites at Slim Barracks attracted 10 bids each by virtue of their location within one-north and walking distance to the MRT stations.

From the private supply, the biggest plot is the freehold site at Thiam Siew Avenue which fetched $815 mil. The land price of the 2.45 ha site works out to $1,488 psf/plot ratio   including    an    estimated    development charge of $284 mil. This could translate to a selling price of $2,400-$2,600 psf for the new project.  

The en bloc acquisition of Peace Centre/Mansion is subject to the joint offerors obtaining a sale order approving the collective sale, approval from the lessor of the property and meeting the planning criteria. With the sale price of $650 mil, the land rate is around $1,426 psf/plot ratio inclusive of a lease top-up premium.

Outlook

With the latest cooling measures in place, we expect 2022 to move at a slower pace. Developers are  monitoring the market to determine when to launch their projects and how to price the units. In anticipation of a rise in interest rates, homebuyers will “right-size” their purchase according to their budget. We expect more buyers to be buying for their own occupation.

With the smaller supply pipeline than 2021, we expect the demand for new homes in 2022 to be 7,000-9,000 units and resale homes to be around 10,000 units. The tight supply could nudge prices up by 3% to 5% through the whole year.