URA 1Q19 real estate statistics

The Urban Redevelopment Authority released statistics on the residential, office and retail property market for 1Q19 today.

April 26, 2019


Mr Ong Teck Hui, Senior Director, Research & Consultancy
王德辉, 研究与咨询部高级董事(新加坡)

Significant mismatch between launches and sales take-up

In 1Q19, 2,989 private residential units were launched for sale, 80.4% higher than in 4Q18 and more than thrice the 921 units launched in 1Q18. Eager to resume launches in the new year, developers placed 13 new projects on the market in the first quarter. The 1,838 new private homes sold in 1Q19 shows that demand was unable to keep pace with the relatively large number of units offered for sale. Demand continues to be affected by the cooling measures imposed in July while softening prices would have resulted in more buyers adopting a wait-and-see attitude.

The total transaction volume of private homes in 1Q19 is 3,743 units (comprising 1,838 and 1,905 units in the primary and secondary markets respectively). While it is 3% lower q-o-q, it is a significant 29.7% drop from the 5,328 units sold in 1Q18, which is fairly indicative of how much the market has slowed after the July 2018 cooling measures.

As the mismatch between launches and sales take up in 1Q19 is significant, it would send a strong message that it is difficult to attract more buyers at current price levels. This could have the effect of new projects being priced more competitively as well as the prices of previously launched projects being reviewed and adjusted in order to achieve better sales progress.

Prices soften more in 1Q19

URA’s overall private residential property price index declined 0.7% in 1Q19, following a softening of -0.1% in the previous quarter. The -0.7% drop was slightly more than the -0.6% recorded during the flash estimates. It was due to a higher price drops for non-landed homes in Core Central Region (CCR) and Rest of Central Region (RCR) compared to flash estimates. The cooling measures, especially the higher ABSD rates would have impacted investor buyers in CCR and RCR more significantly resulting in sharper price declines. (See table below)

On the other hand, the price index for non-landed homes in Outside Central Region (OCR) increased 0.2% in 1Q19, reflecting its resilience due to support from more buyers for owner occupation, including upgraders, as well as availability of more affordable homes. However, this does not mean that prices in OCR will continue to trend positively because there are 12,934 unsold units in this sub-market which is more than thrice the take-up of 4,066 units in 2018.

URA Private Residential Property Price Index Changes



(Flash estimates)


























Source: URA

Unsold inventory continues rising

According to URA, there were 36,839 unsold units as at 1Q19, 5.8% higher than in 4Q18, but a sharp 56.7% increase from 1Q18. Compared to the new home sales take-up of 8,795 units in 2018, there is abundant supply in the market for the next 2 to 3 years.

Rentals rise as vacancy eases

New completions of private homes almost halved from 4,720 units in 4Q18 to 2,262 units in 1Q19. Coupled with heightened withdrawal activities from projects that have gone en bloc, net new supply of private homes increased by a mere 953 units in 1Q19. Similarly, net absorption also fell from a high of 4,674 units in 4Q18 to 1,192 units in 1Q19 as demand in the leasing market did not receive any major boost from foreign expatriate numbers.

With the fall in supply outpacing that of net absorption, vacancy continued to fall for the sixth consecutive quarter to 6.3% as of 1Q19. This is the lowest vacancy level in more than five years and contributed to the 1.0% recovery in rents in 1Q19, reversing a -1.0% decline in the previous quarter.

The trend of falling vacancy rates is expected to continue till 2020, given the expected low completions of 5,694 units from 2Q19 to 4Q19 and 3,653 units in 2020 before a resurgence in supply of 10,224 units in 2021. For the rest of 2019, leasing market conditions would be tilted to favour landlords due to falling supply but rental increase could be moderated by less favourable economic and business conditions, which may have an impact on hiring and rental budgets.


Ms. Tay Huey Ying, Head of Research and Consultancy, Singapore
郑惠匀, 研究与咨询部主管 (新加坡)

1Q19 rental index decline in spite of rising market

URA’s 1Q19 real estate statistics released today showed office rents in the Central Region posted its first correction since turning around in 3Q17.  This runs contrary to JLL’s observation of rent growth accelerating in 1Q19 across almost all submarkets tracked.

Specifically, JLL’s research showed that the average monthly gross effective signing rents for a fixed basket of Grade A office assets in the CBD rose 3.7% q-o-q in 1Q19 to SGD 10.63 per sq ft from SGD 10.25 per sq ft in 4Q18.  This is faster than the 3.3% q-o-q recorded in 4Q18 and 2.3% q-o-q recorded in 3Q18.  The relentless rise in the rents of the basket of office assets tracked by JLL was underpinned by diminishing availability of good quality office space in the CBD for lease amid firm demand and limited new supply. 

The correction reflected in URA’s 1Q19 office rental index could be due to the occurrence of more leases taking place in Category 2 offices as the availability of Category 1 offices for lease diminishes amid firm demand. A more active Category 2 office leasing market could have dragged down the overall rental index for the quarter. 

JLL remains upbeat about the prospects for Singapore’s office leasing market given steady demand for office space as evidenced by the healthy pre-commitments for schemes scheduled for completion in 2019, namely 9 Penang Road and Funan.  This is amid tight vacancy of 6.0% for Grade A office space in the CBD as of the end of 1Q19 which we expect to tighten further to below the frictional rate of 5% by the end of 2019.

The supply squeeze will continue to give landlords the upper hand in lease negotiations. Hence, barring adverse external shocks, there is potential for 2019 to outperform 2018 in terms of rent growth for Grade A office space in the CBD.  JLL’s research showed that the average monthly gross effective rents of Grade A office space in the CBD rose 11.8% in 2018, faster than the 7.7% staged in 2017.

Note: “Category 1” refers to office space in buildings located in core business areas in Downtown Core and Orchard Planning Area which are relatively modern or recently refurbished, command relatively high rentals and have large floor plate size and gross floor area while “Category 2”, refers to the remaining office space in Singapore which are not included in “Category 1”.


Ms. Tay Huey Ying, Head of Research and Consultancy, Singapore
郑惠匀, 研究与咨询部主管 (新加坡)

Subdued start to 2019 for the retail property market

URA’s 1Q19 real estate statistics point to a retail property market that is still trying to find its footing, as both the rent and price indices of retail space in the Central Region returned to the contractionary mode following 4Q18’s expansions.

However, rents only recorded a marginal 0.2% q-o-q decline in the Central Region in 1Q19 and this is likely due to changing tenant profile such as the increasing take-up of prime level retail space by rent-sensitive occupiers with large space requirement such as activity-based retailers.  Following the openings of SuperPark in Suntec and Holey Moley in Clarke Quay in 4Q18, Nerf Action Xperience and kidztopia will be opening on the ground level of Marina Square in the coming quarters.

On a more upbeat note, the Orchard Road revamp and the SGD 9 billion expansion plans by Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa should inject confidence in the medium-term prospects of Singapore’s tourism and retail industries.  This should prop up business confidence and lend support to demand for retail space.  Nonetheless, the ongoing restructuring occurring in the retail space will likely see the URA retail rental index flip-flopping between marginal up- and down-ticks in the short-term.

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About JLL

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