SINGAPORE: Resale prices in the public housing market held steady in the first quarter of 2020 amid the COVID-19 outbreak, a contrast to the decline in the private property sector.
The resale price index was 131.5, unchanged from the fourth quarter of last year, according to flash estimates released by the Housing & Development Board (HDB) on Wednesday (Apr 1).
This compares with two consecutive quarters of increase in the third and fourth quarters of last year.
“Prices of HDB resale flats are usually not subjected to volatile swings as most people purchase flats for their own stay and not for speculation,” said Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie.
“Nevertheless, the COVID-19 may negate some of the positive impact of the policy changes implemented in recent months.”
Last September, the Government moved to raise the income ceilings for the purchase of new HDB flats and increase housing grants for first-time flat buyers.
In March this year, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong announced several measures to making housing more accessible for Singaporeans, including more support for unwed parents and seniors.
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Ms Sun said she expects there to be limited upside for “major price growth” this year and for prices to continue “trending sideways” in the coming months.
Singapore has been battling a COVID-19 outbreak that has so far infected 926 people and killed three in the country.
Globally, the pandemic has infected more than 800,000 people, with more than 40,000 deaths.
Singapore last week announced a record S$48 billion stimulus package to prop up the economy amid the COVID-19 outbreak, amid the threat of a looming recession.
Together with the S$6.4 billion announced in Budget 2020, Singapore will earmark close to S$55 billion, or about 11 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP), for its fight against the pandemic.
Ms Sun noted that “a silver lining in the COVID-19 cloud” lies in the massive stimulus packages injected by many countries to cushion the impending economic shockwaves.
“The hefty stimulus package unveiled by the government last week to keep unemployment low and the economy running will certainly help to sustain housing demand and ensure prices of flats remain stable in the coming months,” she said.
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The HDB said on Wednesday that it will offer about 3,700 Build-To-Order (BTO) flats in Choa Chu Kang, Pasir Ris, Tampines and Tengah in May.
In August, HDB will offer about 4,100 BTO flats in Ang Mo Kio, Bishan, Geylang, Tampines and Woodlands.
Of these, the flats in Choa Chu Kang (May 2020) and Tampines (August 2020) will have shorter waiting time.
HDB’s final resale price index for the full quarter will be released alongside more detailed housing data on Apr 24.