News release

Private residential units sold by developers in December 2023

Developers’ 2023 sales slip to a 15-year low on cautious sentiment

January 15, 2024

Andrew Peck

+65 9823 7917

SINGAPORE, 15 January 2024 - On 15 January 2024, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) released the data on developer sales for the month of December 2023.

A summary of the launches and sales is provided in the Appendix.

Ms. Chia Siew Chuin, Head of Residential Research, Research & Consultancy at JLL 谢岫君, 私宅市场研究部主管 (新加坡) commented:

Key Observations

Developers paused new project launches during the December holiday and travel season, allowing them the opportunity to prepare for the new year. The holiday lull, coupled with buyers’ cautious stance, which resulted in prospective buyers taking longer to make homebuying decisions, saw developers selling just 135 new private homes (excluding executive condominiums or ECs) in December 2023. This represents an 82.8% plunge from the 784 units sold a month earlier, and on a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis, new home sales fell 20.6%. This is the lowest monthly new sales volume since January 2009, when the market was reeling under the weight of the global financial crisis.

With this, the total new private home sales tally for 2023 is estimated at 6,452 units, 9.1% lower than the 7,099 units sold in 2022. Primary market home sales in 2023 declined despite developers launching 7,551 units during the year, which is 66.8% more units compared to 2022. This represents the lowest new sales volume recorded in 15 years since 2008, when 4,264 new homes were sold. JLL’s research also shows that the average take-up rates for new projects (project size of at least 100 units) within the first month of their launch have also slowed from 64% in 2021 and 72% in 2022, to 55% in 2023.

The overall slowdown in new sales and take-up is reflective of the buyers’ cautious approach and resistance to high prices amid downbeat macroeconomic conditions, high mortgage rates, market cooling measures and ample new housing options in the market.

Project Launches and Sales

Only 36 units were released from ongoing projects at Watten House and The Reserve Residence for sale in December 2023, down 96.3% from the 970 units launched a month prior, and 20.0% lower y-o-y.

With the lack of launches during the holiday lull and cautious sentiment, primary private home sales in December 2023 fell across all market segments. Developers managed to move 66 units or 48.9% of all the new sales in the month from ongoing projects in the Rest of Central Region (RCR), ahead of the 45 units (33.3%) sold in the Outside Central Region (OCR) and 24 units (17.8%) sold in the Core Central Region (CCR).

For the full-year 2023, underpinned by more launches, the RCR dominated overall new private home sales, accounting for 3,040 units (47.1%) sold, followed by the OCR with 1,953 units (30.3%) and CCR with 1,459 units (22.6%). The total new sales volume registered for the RCR in 2023 was up 11.3% y-o-y, while those in the OCR and CCR fell by 21.0% y-o-y and 23.0% y-o-y, respectively.

Deterred by the punitive 60% Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) on foreigner buyers from April 2023, the number of primary market transactions by non-permanent resident (NPR) foreign buyers continued to fall to just four deals in December 2023, compared to 14 caveats lodged a month prior and the recent high of 66 transactions in April 2023. In the CCR, NPR foreign buyers committed to just three deals in December, down from the recent peak of 37 transactions in April 2023.

On a full-year basis, the proportion of all new private home sales to NPR foreigners declined from 7.1% in 2022 to 5.0% in 2023. The proportion of new private home sales to citizen and Singapore PR buyers rose to 83.4% and 11.5% respectively in 2023, up from 82.1% and 10.7% correspondingly in 2022.

With more units of larger-sized and higher-value homes sold in December, 64.2% of the month’s new home transactions were priced from $2 million to $5 million. Examples of projects that moved units within the $2 million to $5 million price range included Blossoms by the Park, Grand Dunman, J'den, Lentor Modern, Lentor Hills Residences, Midtown Modern, The Continuum, The Reef at King's Dock and The Reserve Residences. The priciest unit sold in December was a unit in Watten House, which went for $14.39 million.

All of the four NPR foreign buyers bought new home units priced at $2 million and above in December, while 83.3% of Singaporean PR buyers and 66.1% of Singaporean buyers bought units that sold for at least $2 million.

Table A – Proportion of New Homes Sold by Price Range and Residential Status in December 2023
Price Range Proportion Sold to NPR Foreigners Proportion Sold to Singapore PRs Proportion Sold to Singaporeans Total
<$1.5m 0.0% 0.0% 11.9% 10.4%
$1.5 - $2m 0.0% 16.7% 22.0% 20.9%
$2m - < $5m 75.0% 50.0% 65.3% 64.2%
>$5m 25.0% 33.3% 0.8% 4.5%
Total 100% 100% 100% 100%

Source: URA, JLL Research as of 15 Jan 2024

Outlook

Looking ahead in 2024, foreign buyers and investors will remain deterred by the stricter ABSD measures, while buyers' aspirations and genuine demand from local buyers purchasing for their own occupation will continue to drive residential property sales.

However, the prevailing cautious sentiment among buyers will likely persist into 1H24 due to several factors. These factors include economic uncertainties, ongoing global geopolitical tensions, elevated interest rates, buyers’ resistance to high prices, increased selectiveness given the wide range of new launch options available and buyer fatigue. As a result, despite the healthy state of household balance sheets, homebuyers will remain highly discerning in their decision-making process and are likely to take more time to commit to a purchase.

Nonetheless, prospective homebuyers are foreseen to be motivated to take the plunge for attractive and compelling projects, as evident by the recent successful launches of J’den and Watten House.

Some 11,000 units could potentially be launched in 2024, although the actual number to be introduced will be adjusted based on developers' assessments of the market, their sales plans and strategies. On balance, while developers are likely to adopt a more sensitive pricing strategy in view of the larger launch pipeline and tentative market sentiment, major price corrections are not expected due to the high land and development costs already committed by developers, the persistently low unemployment rate, ample market liquidity, as well as the potential for an economic improvement and a moderation in interest rates in 2H24. There should also be room for developers to calibrate higher prices for selected prominent projects with unique and strong product and locational selling points.

A robust line up of new launches, combined with the anticipated improvement in the economic and interest rate environment in 2H24 are expected to boost buyers' confidence and stimulate demand in the new home sales market, lifting new sales volume to 7,000 – 8,000 units in 2024. This will be above 2023’s sales total of 6,452 units but below the annual average of 8,856 units in the last 10 years from 2014 to 2023.

Overall private home prices are projected to rise by 3% to 5% in 2024.

Appendix

The top selling projects during the month are listed in Table B. The best-selling projects in December were previously launched projects such as The Continuum, which transacted 17 units at a median price of $2,775 psf and The Landmark, which sold 13 units at a median price of $2,853 psf.

Table B - Top Selling Projects
Project Sub-market Sold (units) Median price ($ psf)
The Continuum RCR 17 2,775
The Landmark RCR 13 2,853
The Myst OCR 9 2,182
Lentor Modern OCR 8 2,119
J’den OCR 7 2,577

Source: URA


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