URA 1Q23 real estate statistics
The Urban Redevelopment Authority unveiled the figures for the residential, office, and retail property market in 1Q23.
SINGAPORE, 28 April 2023 - The Urban Redevelopment Authority released statistics on the residential, office and retail property market for 1Q23 today.
Ms Chia Siew Chuin, Head of Residential Research, Research & Consultancy, Singapore
谢岫君, 私宅市场研究部主管 (新加坡)
Overall private residential sales increased in 1Q23 on rebound of new home sales
In 1Q23, the overall sales volume of private homes (excluding Executive Condominiums or ECs in the primary and secondary markets) rose 14.9% q-o-q with 4,121 units transacted, mainly attributable to a jump in new home sales.
Driven by major fresh project launches in the quarter and underpinned by sustained buying interest for ongoing projects in the primary market, transactions of new private homes rebounded by 82% q-o-q from 690 units in 4Q22 to 1,256 units in 1Q23. However, the 1,256 new units sold were 31.2% lower compared to 1Q22, as buying sentiment has since turned cautious amid a dimmer economic outlook, persistently high interest rates, inflation and more stringent property market curbs. Some potential buyers have also remained on the side-lines for more options from new project launches in the next few quarters.
The Core Central Region (CCR) – a proxy for high-end and luxury homes – led new home sales in 1Q23 despite the lack of fresh project launches. Properties in the submarket remained on the radar of homebuyers who booked 541 new units (43.1% of total new sales) during the quarter and represented an increase of 42% q-o-q and 49.9% y-o-y. The narrowed price gap between private homes in the CCR and the Rest of Central Region (RCR) has rendered CCR properties as attractive buying opportunities. Ongoing CCR projects that helped boost transactions in the submarket included Leedon Green, Pullman Residences Newton, Perfect Ten, Hyll on Holland and Klimt Cairnhill.
Lifted by the new project launches of Sceneca Residence and The Botany at Dairy Farm in 1Q23, the Outside Central Region (OCR) was the second best-selling region in the quarter, accounting for 458 units or 36.5% of total new sales. This was 3.7 times the tally in 4Q22 but 24.7% lower y-o-y.
The continued dearth of fresh launches except for the debut of Terra Hill in 1Q23 saw primary market home sales in the RCR increase by 38.2% q-o-q in 1Q23 but fall 70% y-o-y to 257 units. The submarket constituted 20.5% of all new sales in 1Q23.
On the other hand, resale market transactions dipped by 2.7% q-o-q to 2,622 units in 1Q23 and by 22.4% y-o-y when compared against the 3,377 resale transactions in 1Q22.The price divergence between buyers and sellers had generally continued to cap resale volume, as sellers maintained higher asking prices in view of increased home replacement costs in the form of higher property prices, interest rates and stamp duties, while buyers had been less willing to commit to high offer prices amid market uncertainties. The CCR was the only submarket that saw an uptick in resale volume in 1Q23, up by 9.9% q-o-q and 1.9% y-o-y to 543 units and validates the growing value proposition and interest in properties in the CCR.
Overall price growth accelerated in 1Q23, driven by increased transactions, higher landed home prices and new benchmark prices set for project launches
Underpinned by improved quarterly sales transaction volume, private home prices increased by 3.3% q-o-q in 1Q23, the 12th consecutive quarterly rise and accelerating from the 0.4% q-o-q growth in 4Q22. Compared to 1Q22, private home prices have escalated by 11.4% and by 28.1% since the low in 1Q20. The accelerated price growth, which was 0.1% above the earlier flash estimates, prompted a fresh round of market cooling measures with upward revisions in Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rates with effect from 27 April 2023.
The overall price increase was led by landed property prices, which grew by 5.9% q-o-q in 1Q23, faster than the 0.6% registered in 4Q22 and the steepest since the 6.7% q-o-q surge in 1Q21. On a y-o-y basis landed home prices have risen by 11.4%. The healthy price growth registered for landed properties was despite the lower transaction volume of 348 units in 1Q23 compared to 617 units in 1Q22. This is a testament to Singaporean’s strong penchant for landed homes and the impetus to pay a premium in a tight market where sellers maintained higher asking prices in view of higher acquisition costs for replacement homes.
After inching up 0.3% q-o-q in 4Q22, prices of non-landed homes rose faster by 2.6% q-o-q in 1Q23 and by 11.3% on a y-o-y basis on the back of new benchmark prices set by new project launches during the quarter.
Among the submarkets, prices of non-landed homes in the mid-tier RCR climbed the fastest by 4.4% q-o-q in 1Q23 after the 3.1% increase in the previous quarter. The price escalation in the RCR was largely due to the launch of Terra Hill at new price benchmark of SGD 2,650 psf in the locale during its debut in February. Compared to 1Q22, prices of non-landed homes in the RCR have climbed 17.7% as at 1Q23, the strongest among all three submarkets.
The mass-market OCR price index for private non-landed homes rebounded by 1.9% q-o-q in 1Q23 from the decline of 2.6% q-o-q in 4Q22. The price recovery was driven by new launches including Sceneca Residence in Tanah Merah at an average price of SGD 2,072 psf and The Botany at Dairy Farm at SGD 2,070 psf, which chalked up healthy sales at new price benchmarks for their respective neighbourhoods. A year on as at 1Q23, non-landed home prices in the submarket have strengthened by 8.9%.
Higher sales volume in both the primary and resale markets of the prime CCR supported price growth of non-landed homes in the region, which edged up further from 0.7% q-o-q in 4Q22 to 0.8% q-o-q in 1Q23. Y-o-y, prices in the submarket have climbed by 5.8%, the slowest compared to the increases recorded in the RCR and OCR.
The changes in URA’s price indices in 1Q23 are tabulated below.
URA Private Residential Property Price Index Q-o-Q Changes
Slight uptick in unsold stock but remains significantly lower than pre-COVID levels
The total stock of unsold private residential units islandwide grew 1.9% q-o-q to 16,464 units in 1Q23, following a rise in both the number of completed and uncompleted stock left unsold. Despite the increase, as at 1Q23, the level of unsold stock constituted just 54% of the annual average tally of 30,481 units during the pre-COVID period from 2010 to 2019.
Among the market segments, the CCR was the only one that recorded a q-o-q dip by 12.5% in unsold stock, largely due to increased buying interest in the submarket. The narrowed price gap between RCR and CCR private residential properties continued to provide prospective buyers with attractive buying opportunities in the CCR.
Rents rise unabated with landed properties seeing rapid growth
Following the 4,245-unit increase in completed stock (excluding ECs) in 4Q22, completed supply of private residential homes rose by 2,864 units in 1Q23. Net absorption fell during the quarter to 887 units compared to the 4,496 units in 4Q22. Consequently, islandwide (excluding ECs) vacancy rates rose to 6.0% in 1Q23 against the 5.5% in the previous quarter.
The rental index for private residential properties islandwide continued to rise in 1Q23, but the pace slowed for the second consecutive quarter from 8.6% q-o-q in 3Q22, to 7.4% q-o-q in 4Q22 and to 7.2% q-o-q in 1Q23. Locals waiting for the completion of their new homes who are renting in the interim, and foreign hires by businesses continued to contribute to leasing demand and rent increase during the quarter. However, tenants’ growing prudence and resistance towards continued rental increases amid higher costs of living and increased housing options for lease have resulted in the slower growth momentum.
Looking ahead, the general buying sentiment is likely to be prudent as housing affordability remains a concern in the face of inflation, higher interest rates and an uncertain economic outlook.
The fresh market cooling measures effective from 27 April 2023 are expected result in an instinctive market reaction and temper market sentiment in the short term. While more project launches are expected to be slated for the rest of the year, particularly those outside the prime CCR, transaction volumes could slow in the coming months before recovering as the market assimilates the measures and prospective buyers assess the potential impact. Demand could be diverted to the side-lines due to lower affordability and higher upfront costs amid the new measures.
Local and permanent resident (PR) first-time buyers are largely left unscathed, and they are foreseen to be the key driver of the private residential market. The nascent recovery of foreign homebuying and investment demand which formed 6.9% of all non-landed private homes purchases in 1Q23, is expected to be nipped following the prohibitive jump in ABSD for foreigners. However, Singapore’s government continues to welcome foreign wealth that adds value to Singapore as well as foreigners to set up homes in Singapore. For instance, those who qualify for the Global Investor Programme could eventually become permanent residents in the country.
Buyers could adopt a wait-and-see approach, with anticipation that prices will fall on the back of increased negotiating power. However immediate price corrections are unlikely as market fundamentals remain relatively stable with tight supply and resilient underlying demand for private homes, particularly from local households. As developers had incurred increased land acquisition and development costs, they are likely to hold top-line prices of upcoming launches relatively firm, particularly for mass-market projects as the impact on buying demand for mass-market homes is expected to be limited. Overall, barring any adverse turn of macroeconomic events and job losses, private home prices could increase 3%-4% for the whole of 2023.
Unsold inventory could remain low in the medium-term as developers are increasingly cautious due to rising costs resulting from inflationary pressure, high interest rates and stamp duties, as well as reduced saleable floor area due to the harmonisation of floor area computation (affecting all development applications submitted from 1 June 2023 onwards). These factors cause further strain on developers’ profit margins, leading them to be more careful with their bids and further exacerbating the gap in pricing expectations between developers and sellers. While the ABSD rates for developers remain unchanged in the current round of market curbs, developers will remain prudent in land banking activities in view of the homebuying demand uncertainties arising from the cooling measures. Developers will likely seek out palatable development plots from the government land sale programme as well as sites that are suitable for mass-market development projects as underlying demand for such homes is expected to remain resilient. Collective sale deals for sites in the high-end market will face stronger headwinds.
In the rental market, the anticipated completions of projects that faced construction delays due to COVID is expected to inject a large supply to the market, especially in the second half of the year. In 2023, there could potentially be 17,690 new completions, 85.7% higher than the 9,526 units newly completed in 2022. This would also be the highest number of annual new completions since 2016 when 20,803 units were completed in the year. The surge in expected supply this year, coupled with heightened economic uncertainties and growing tenant’s resistance to high rents could alleviate upward pressure on rents. That said, some foreigners in Singapore, such as employment pass holders seeking to buy properties in Singapore may turn to the rental market following the ABSD hikes, thereby adding to leasing demand.
Ms. Tay Huey Ying, Head of Research and Consultancy, Singapore
郑惠匀, 研究与咨询部主管 (新加坡)
1Q23 office rent growth kept pace with 4Q22
Based on leases which commenced in 1Q23, URA’s 1Q23 office rental index for the Central Region rose 5.1% q-o-q, keeping pace with the momentum in 4Q22. We believe the robust growth is largely a reflection of the buoyant office leasing market in 2022 since leases are typically signed or renewed several months ahead of commencements.
The rental index could also receive a boost from the conclusion of a higher volume of smaller deals which typically command higher psf rates. JLL observed that leasing activity in 1Q23 was largely led by the small and medium-sized space occupiers with immediate needs to accommodate new workplace design or increased headcounts that took place in 2022. Large space occupiers have generally retreated to the sidelines amid mounting economic headwinds and downbeat economic prospects.
Fresh dampeners in 1Q23, including the banking crisis arising from the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and the takeover of Credit Suisse, and the deepening of the technology sector consolidation, have further slowed leasing activities. This led to JLL’s average signing rent for a fixed base of Grade A offices to edge up at a moderate pace of 1.0% q-o-q in 1Q23 to SGD 11.30 psf per month from the SGD 11.19 psf per month recorded in 4Q22. This is a slowdown from the 1.2% q-o-q growth managed in 4Q22, when rent increases first started to show signs of moderation since recovering from the pandemic-led downturn.
Modest rent growth foreseen for the near-term
Downside risks to economic growth – both globally and domestically – have risen in 1Q23. We expect this to keep occupier sentiment soft in the coming quarters. While we expect leasing activity for recently or soon-to-be completed projects such as Guoco Midtown and IOI Central Boulevard Towers to maintain good traction as occupiers with strong balance sheet take opportunity to lock-in good quality office spaces, backfilling of spaces vacated by relocating occupiers could take a little longer given the subdued sentiment. This will likely keep signing rent growth modest, if at all, for the rest of 2023.
Strengthening demand for investment grade strata offices to lend support to prices
On the sales front, we expect strengthening demand for investment grade strata-titled offices could lend some support to office prices which registered muted growth in 1Q23 based on URA’s price index for offices in the Central Region.
Strata office transactions have dominated the office investment sales market (deal size of at least SGD 5 million) in the last six months, accounting for over 53% of the sales by value, up from an average of 15% over the past 5 years. Cash-flushed, ultra-high-net-worth individuals and family offices have been particularly active.
Notable strata office deals sealed in 1Q23 include the sale of five full strata floors at the newly launched freehold Solitaire on Cecil, which were reportedly sold to high-net-worth individuals and family offices. The developer sold two floors, levels 6 and 12, during its preview, for SGD 3,865 psf and SGD 4,196 psf, respectively. Another three office floors (levels 17, 18 and 20) were recently sold for a total SGD 162.8 million, or SGD 4,300 psf on a blended basis. In particular, level 20 was sold at SGD 4,325 psf, a record unit price for a full floor space in a strata-titled office building in Singapore.
We foresee more funds could be channelled into this asset class following the fresh round of residential market cooling measures targeted at curbing investment and foreign purchases of residential properties that were announced on 26 April 2023.
Ms. Angelia Phua, Consulting Director, Research and Consultancy, Singapore
潘慧菁, 顾问董事, 研究与咨询部(新加坡)
URA headline retail property rents and prices continue to soften
URA’s statistics, released today, signalled that retailers and investors continue to err on the side of caution amid macroeconomic headwinds (protracted inflationary pressure, a higher interest rate environment and recessionary threats). URA’s headline vacancy rates rose while retail property rents and price indices drifted lower in 1Q23.
According to URA’s 1Q23 real estate statistics, islandwide retail vacancy rates rose 0.5 percentage point q-o-q to 7.6% in 1Q23 reversing three consecutive quarters of declines. This was largely due to higher vacancy rates in the Central Region, where retail vacancy rates rose 0.7% percentage point q-o-q to 9.4% in 1Q23. Outside Central Region, retail vacancy rates rose a mere 0.1 percentage point q-o-q to 4.1% in 1Q23.
Within the Central Region, vacancy rates in the Orchard area rose the sharpest by 4.1 percentage point q-o-q to 13.9% in 1Q23. Operational sustainability remains an ongoing challenge for certain businesses faced with intense competition from e-commerce and changing consumer preferences which led to retail closures. Business consolidations in the quarter included the closure of fast fashion label H&M at ION Orchard after ten years at the mall, releasing approximately 20,000 sq ft of retail space spread across two floors. Alice in Wonderland-themed restaurant Wonderland Savour also shuttered its operation in Wisma Atria in 1Q23.
URA’s retail rent index for the Central Region continued to drift lower, extending its fifth consecutive quarter of decline, falling 0.3% q-o-q in 1Q23. However, the pace of decline moderated sharply from the 1.1% q-o-q decline in 4Q22. While structural challenges and macroeconomic headwinds likely led to rent hike resistance that resulted in falling rents in 1Q23, rising foot traffic (from domestic and foreign visitors) and encouraging retail sales (above pre-covid 2019 levels for certain operations), following Singapore’s economic reopening, instilled business confidence which likely cushioned the rental decline in 1Q23.
The URA’s retail property price index for the Central Region also declined for the fifth consecutive quarter, falling 0.9% q-o-q in 1Q23. This was likely driven by falling retail rents in 1Q23 and investor expectations of higher property yields in a rising interest rate and inflationary environment.
Looking ahead, Singapore’s resilient domestic consumer market, the growing number of foreign visitors and the impending return of Chinese tourists are the tailwinds driving the retail market recovery.
Based on the latest data released by the Singapore Tourism Board, in March 2023, China moved up five places to be the fifth largest source market with 60,888 visitors, which was a sharp increase from 35,312 visitors in February 2023. While Chinese visitor arrivals in March 2023 only contributed about 6% of the total visitor arrivals in the month (China was Singapore’s top tourism source market, contributing about 19% of overall visitor arrivals between 2017 and 2019), and were about 20% of the average level of Chinese visitor arrivals in 2019, they are expected to gain prominence as a source market over the remaining quarters of 2023, considering increasing flight connectivity and capacity following China’s reopening. (The Singapore Tourism Board expects international visitor arrivals of 12 to 14 million in 2023, a sharp increase from 6.3 million arrivals in 2022).
This should continue to attract new-to-market businesses and spur opportunistic expansion. Hence, occupier demand is expected to remain firm and should continue to push overall vacancy rates lower amid limited supply, while driving rent growth of prime floor space in 2023.
Given the favourable supply-demand fundamentals of the retail property market and the scarcity of tradeable assets, coupled with optimism for a recovery in tourism (business and leisure), and resilient domestic consumption, rising rents should underpin prices of prime floor space in quality retail assets, in spite of higher yield expectations in a higher interest rate environment.
JLL (NYSE: JLL) is a leading professional services firm that specializes in real estate and investment management. JLL shapes the future of real estate for a better world by using the most advanced technology to create rewarding opportunities, amazing spaces and sustainable real estate solutions for our clients, our people and our communities. JLL is a Fortune 500 company with annual revenue of $20.9 billion, operations in over 80 countries and a global workforce of more than 103,000 as of December 31, 2022. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit jll.com.