HDB Resale Price Index DOUBLED from 2007 to 2013, dropped 10% to 2015 then stabilized. When COVID-19 pandemic started, I was expecting prices dropping like during 2003 SARS, but contrary happened: internet connection available nowadays allowed people to work from home, and despite that pandemic caused a short-term global recession, it changed people lifestyle towards investing more in (bigger) homes, further accelerating prices growth.
The below charts generated from Excel analysis shows price evolution for each town. Click towns on right side to highlight lines.
Note: HDB do not provide median price if less than 20 flats were transacted per quarter, thus there are gaps in lines. Especially in case of Executive flats, HDB do not display median prices for Bishan and Queenstown (towns famous for $1 million HDB flats) because they do not have at least 20 transacted flats except in Q2-Q3 2008.
Download Excel price analysis
In 2013 I sourced data from HDB Resale Statistics and compiled an Excel file showing HDB price trends since 2007, and based on it I created the below charts which I am updating every quarter. Due to requests from 3 people, in 2020 I compiled similar Excel file sourcing data from HDB rental statistics. See below video what do you get after payment.
Price trends in 1990s and 2000s
During 1990s, the location was not so important. Like today, Bishan and Bukit Timah had the most expensive resale flats, but a thing less known by the young generation, is that Choa Chu Kang and Pasir Ris were also among expensive estates. Mature towns like Queenstown, Toa Payoh and Ang Mo Kio were cheaper.
Larger flats types had higher price per square meter or feet than small flats, in 1990-1992 average resale price of Executive flats being double than average resale price of 4-room flats, at an area 40% larger.
HDB stopped deciding the prices of new apartments based on construction costs, instead they decided based on market prices. Prices of resale flats and new flats entered in a vicious circle, rising 50% in just 6 months of 1993 and tripled to 1996. The gap between small and large flat types in terms of price per square feet has decreased.
The 1997 Asian Crisis came when 80.000 flats were under construction, demand for new flats felt sharply. leaving HDB with about 40,000 unsold completed flats in the year 2000, mostly large flat types. 2003 SARS outbreak affected economy too. Queue selling system (Registration for Flat) was suspended in 2002, Build-To-Order was introduced to prevent oversupply, and Walk-In-Selection was used between 2002 and 2007 to clear the stock of unsold flats.
The old estates built in 1960s and 1970s suffered from dilapidated buildings, aging population and businesses moving out, so HDB launched various upgrading programmes and Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme to bring them in the line with new estates. Resale flat prices in old estates (where most 3-room are located) started rising in 2002, while in new estates they continued to fall until 2006, Executive flats having biggest fall. Price per square foot between small and large flat types equalized in 2005.
Walk-In Selection ended in 2007 and was replaced by Sale of Balance Flats that is only twice per year and in some towns more than 10 people battle per each flat. BTO became main mode of flat supply. People who cannot wait 3-4 years construction time for BTO and fail at SBF, need to go in resale market. Resale prices started rising.
Prices grew faster in pre-1980 estates fueled by upgrading programmes and agents lying people that all old blocks will get SERS, making prices in Marine Parade, Queenstown, and Toa Payoh to rival those in with Bishan and Bukit Timah. Pasir Ris had lowest price growth.
Singapore economy recovered in late 2000s but HDB failed to anticipate, it ramped up the BTO supply too late and too slow, they offered 5500 BTO flats in 2007, 7800 in 2008, 9000 in 2009 (global recession),
12000? 16000 in 2010, 22000 25000 in 2011, 25000 27000 in 2012, plus DBSS flats and Executive Condos. ( strikethrough numbers are initial numbers announced at beginning of year).
Rising supply of BTO became visible in 2012, a small reduction in resale prices growing rate.
HDB lowered minimum application rate for BTO to be built from 70% to 50% in 2011, but since mid-2000s to 2013 no BTO had application rate under 100% (except elderly Studio BTO flats).
Analysts predicted that the prices in Singapore will start dropping in 2012 (example), as they predicted in 2011, 2010 too. In my forecast, resale flat prices will NOT fall even in 2012, but will continue to grow for as many years as HDB refuse to build ahead of demand, forcing us to wait 4 years via BTO!
HDB introduced multiple measures to cool down the market, but all failed, for example Minimum Occupation Period lengthen to 5 years for resale flats in 2011 (does anyone know when 5-year MOP was introduced for new flats?) just made less flats to enter resale market and the number of people not eligible for buying directly from HDB (for example PR and singles) is growing.
Most of BTOs launched in the 3 years 2009, 2010, 2011 been completed in only 2 years 2013-2014… 25000 flats completed in 2014 alone + 5 years MOP = possible market crash in 2019. I am not saying that prices will not start to fall earlier, but 2019 may have the biggest price fall (if other variables would not exist).
Note: The above text was written by my personal research at end of 2011. Later I found a similar research on h88.com.sg: Colin Tan: HDB resale flat prices will stay up, dating from Feb 2012, that confirm my hypothesis They say that prices will drop no sooner than 2017! Oh dear…
Prices dropping since 2013
One of the cooling measures, 3 year waiting period for permanent residents to buy resale flats, introduced in August 2013, created fear that the housing market may crash. Resale flat prices dropped in 3rd quarter 2013, for the first time in 5 years. Such minor drop in prices may cause panic, many owners rush to sell their flats before prices fall more, leading to a chain reaction in price drop, OR if the panic may be just temporarily and prices will rise back next year. However, there are no signs to recover. Every quarter of 2014 added 1-2% drop in prices. No significant drop but still enough to make analysts ANGRY that HDB cooling measures were too powerful and requested to be lifted.
Note that HDB can also invent anti-cooling measures in case prices drop with more than 10% in one year, and these anti-cooling measures can fail as most of the cooling measures failed. HDB wants to stabilize prices, a too sudden drop can be disastrous for entire Singapore economy.
Stupidity: instead of providing an adequate supply of flats, they kept supply low during 2000s despite of population increase, and while demand was rising too few flats entered in resale market, then during 2010s HDB artificially slowed down demand for resale flats with cooling measures, and when prices started to drop, instead of keeping supply high and lift the cooling measures, they announced to decrease supply of new BTO flats 24300 units in 2014 to 16900 units in 2015. A stupid decision! BTO launches do not affect resale prices directly so we expect to see prices dropping and further decrease of BTO supply in the next years, thus the 2008-2013 price bubble risk to happen again during 2020s!
Personally I hope that HDB will let the price index to drop slowly to 150 (2009 level), THEN lift the cooling measures, but keep the supply of at least 25000 BTO flats per year.
New BTO flat prices won’t fall according resale price index, they were traditionally priced 20% cheaper than nearby resale flat prices, but since 2011 they were “de-linked” and became 30-40% cheaper (even if we exclude grants for first timers) as the HDB anticipated market fall. Even if the prices fall 10% for 3 consecutive years, BTO flat owners will still have profit from selling their flats. This does not apply for DBSS flats which were overpriced at their launch in 2011-2012. Raised income ceiling from $10k to $12k in 2015 may allow HDB to push up BTO prices. Income ceiling was raised again to $14,000 on 10 September 2019 (source).
https://kendata12345.wordpress.com/category/4-hdb-bto-flats-price-and-cost-analysis/ – Another website did a detailed analysis of cost of building a BTO flat compared with selling price. He copied my Excel file of BTO prices without my approval.
What you should know
– Upgrading programmes and upcoming MRT lines also drive up the nationwide resale price index.
– The small size of today flats may encourage people to go in resale market for flats built before 1998 (NOT SURE if this push up the resale prices, record of psf is now hold by resale flats built in 2000s).
– Prices fall faster in young towns than mature towns, Punggol suffered biggest price fall in late 2013, as results of over-speculation during last years, this after it was the cheapest town in mid-2000s.
– In mature towns prices fall faster in the old 10-storey blocks of Queenstown and Toa Payoh that are getting shadowed by the new 40-storey blocks.
Affordability of HDB flats
Yes they are still affordable!
Proof: every launch, the higher priced BTOs (better locations) gets most applicants.
HDB Website shows application rate. See how 3-room remained unsold and how big is the battle for 5-room despite of higher prices. See the TRUTH about shrinking HDB flat sizes!
As you can see in the chart, Singapore HDB flat prices DOUBLED in 2008-2013 due to insufficient supply of new flats.
Would you like prices dropping next 5 years to the early 2000s value? Think about owners who worked hard to pay current flats which will lose half of value! Would you like prices growing so you and everyone else can make profit selling? Think about your kids, how hard they will need to work to buy their first home!
Poll started February 2016. See also results of previous poll (379 votes between April 2014 and February 2015).