Private resale homes prices stayed flat in August following a similar result in July, according to an index that tracks transactions in completed projects.
Property experts say the flatlining prices indicate that buyers are taking a cautious approach towards property amid a period of economic uncertainty.
Flash estimates of the Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI) indicated zero overall price growth last month while the revised numbers for July also showed zero growth in overall residential prices. Prices rose 0.7 per cent overall in June.
The previously released flash estimates for July had indicated a 0.2 per cent overall price rise.
The previous time the index was flat month-on-month was July last year, according to Ms Chua Chor Hoon, head of DTZ South-east Asia research.
Associate Professor Lum Sau Kim of the National University of Singapore’s Institute of Real Estate Studies and Department of Real Estate, who leads the group that compiles the index, said the situation is not directly comparable to that in July last year.
This is because the index methodology was changed in July this year to ‘account specifically for the influence of small or shoebox units’, she said.
‘Our flash estimate shows that overall housing prices in the non-landed private market have remained relatively unchanged between July and August based on data captured by Sept 21.’
August’s flat price index was a result of rising values of so-called shoebox flats being offset by modest movements in central and suburban areas.
Prices of shoebox units – around 500 sq ft or under – seem to have defied gravity last month, rising 3.1 per cent and rebounding from a 0.5 per cent price dip in July.
Property experts said the flash August values reflected buyer caution, with affordability as the top priority.
Dr Chua Yang Liang, head of research at Jones Lang LaSalle South-east Asia, said shoebox apartment prices could have risen last month with more buyers seeking cheaper apartments.
‘At the end of the day it’s about affordability… it’s the total quantum, total lump sum that buyers are looking at. Shoeboxes tend to fare better.’
DTZ’s Ms Chua also noted that the outlook was more cautious now, although she added that the monthly index tended to be volatile so revised values could be quite different.
As a case in point, flash estimates for shoebox unit prices in July showed 1.4 per cent growth but the revised number was a fall of 0.5 per cent.
Prices of regular-sized flats in the central and suburban areas showed little movement last month.
Central area values slipped 0.7 per cent after a 1.3 per cent decrease in July, while suburban apartment prices rose 0.5 per cent, from July’s 1 per cent increase.
Dr Chua said: ‘The market is in a bit of a wait-and-see (mood), given the economic uncertainty.’