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HDB resale prices climb 0.6% in August; record 54 units sold for at least $1 million each

SINGAPORE – Prices of Housing Board resale flats inched up by 0.6 per cent in August, with a record 54 units changing hands for at least $1 million each.

It was the fourth consecutive month that HDB resale flat prices grew by less than 1 per cent, although the increase is higher than July’s 0.3 per cent, according to flash data from real estate portals and SRX on Thursday.

The price growth was mostly driven by larger flats, with prices of five-room flats rising by 1.5 per cent and executive apartments climbing 1.6 per cent, said OrangeTee & Tie senior vice-president of research and analytics Christine Sun.

But she said the growth rate in the first eight months of 2023 has slowed, compared with the same period in 2022 and 2021.

From January to August 2023, resale prices rose 4.8 per cent, slower than the 6.4 per cent increase in 2022 and 9.2 per cent in 2021 recorded over the same months, she noted.

The million-dollar transactions in August topped the previous record of 45 such sales in September 2022, the month when property cooling measures were introduced.

Analysts pointed to the reclassification of HDB flats that will kick in from the second half of 2024, when Build-To-Order flats in choicer locations will fall under the Prime and Plus categories that come with stricter resale conditions.

Most of the million-dollar flats sold in August were located in mature estates such as Bukit Merah, Kallang/Whampoa, Ang Mo Kio and the central area, while two each were in non-mature towns Woodlands and Hougang.

ERA Singapore key executive officer Eugene Lim said: “More buyers who intend to live in central areas see the urgency to purchase their units as the supply of existing units (without restrictions) will remain unchanged.”

Plus and Prime flats come with a 10-year minimum occupation period before they can be sold, and a subsidy clawback under which flat owners return subsidies to HDB upon selling their flats. 

There will also be an income ceiling for resale buyers.

Huttons Asia chief executive Mark Yip said buyers are willing to pay more to snag a flat with no resale restrictions in mature estates.

“Demand for resale flats in mature estates may continue to be robust in the coming months as buyers look for newer flats… It may stabilise once there is more clarity on the new policy change,” he said.

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Of the 54 million-dollar flats sold in August, 16 were four-room flats, 21 were five-room flats, and 17 were executive apartments.

The most expensive resale flat was a five-room, 107 sq m unit between the 28th and 30th storeys at The Pinnacle@Duxton in Cantonment Road that sold for $1.48 million.

A record price per sq ft (psf) was also inked in August.

A four-room, 94 sq m unit between the 49th and 51st storeys at The Pinnacle@Duxton changed hands for $1.41 million, or $1,394 psf – the highest psf price recorded for a resale HDB flat to date, said PropNex Realty head of research and content Wong Siew Ying.

She said 16 of the million-dollar flats in August were four-room units, a new peak for transactions of this unit type.

“It is possible that some seniors who have resold their private homes have partly contributed to the higher sales of such four-room flats,” she said.

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Private property owners above 55 years old are able to purchase four-room and smaller resale flats after selling their home, without being subjected to the 15-month wait-out period.

Mr Nicholas Mak, chief research officer of property search portal, noted that condominiums in popular areas such as Bukit Merah and Queenstown, where million-dollar flats are commonly recorded, are priced around $2.2 million for units ranging from 90 sq m to 140 sq m.

“Households that want to buy a home with at least three bedrooms but cannot afford the $2.2 million price tag may turn to the HDB resale market. Even at $1 million, the HDB resale flat is still half the price of a 99-year leasehold resale condo unit,” he said.

The 54 million-dollar flats made up 2.2 per cent of the total resale volume for August.

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More HDB resale flats were sold in August, with the number rising by 20.3 per cent to an estimated 2,473 units, from 2,056 in July.

Mature estates saw more transaction activities, accounting for 40.3 per cent of overall transactions, the highest since March 2023, noted Mr Yip.

Mr Lim said that even then, sales volume in mature estates declined by 9.1 per cent in the first eight months of 2023 compared with the same period in 2022, while transactions in non-mature estates remained fairly stable.

“These are signals that HDB flat buyers are increasingly price-sensitive,” he said.

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