News release

URA 3Q23 real estate statistics

Price increase eases as sales slow amid market challenges and competition.

October 27, 2023

Andrew Peck

+65 9823 7917

The Urban Redevelopment Authority released statistics on the residential, office and retail property market for 3Q23 today.

Residential

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)

Price increase eases as sales slow amid market challenges and competition

Sales Volume

Sales volume of private new homes (excluding executive condominiums or ECs) in the primary market totalled 1,946 units in 3Q23, down by 8.5% from 2Q23 and by 11.0% year-on-year (y-o-y). Year-to-September 2023, primary home sales reached 5,329 units, marking a 16.9% fall compared to the same period in 2022. This is the lowest in the last ten years since the corresponding period in 2016, when the 5,656 units were sold. The new home sales tally declined despite a 61.3% increase in the number of new units launched from 1Q-3Q23 compared to the same period a year ago.

Similarly in the secondary market, sales (sub-sale and resale) eased marginally by 0.2% quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q) and by 17.8% y-o-y to 3,255 units in 3Q23. In the first nine months of 2023, secondary market sales thinned by a 21.1% compared to the same period in 2022.

The decline in sales tally generally reflects increased caution and softer buyer demand in the face of a cloudy economic outlook and the new April 2023 market cooling measures. In the primary market, buyers have also become more discerning, taking more time to pick from a broad spectrum of choices from newly released projects while keeping an eye on upcoming launches. In the secondary market, prolonged high interest rates and a tight resale stock continue to limit sales volume. The mandatory 15-month waiting period also deterred some private homeowners planning to downgrade to HDB resale flats from selling their private homes, further restricting the available resale stock and resale transactions.

Prices

The URA All Residential Price Index inched up by 0.8% q-o-q in 3Q23, reversing from the 0.2% q-o-q dip in 2Q23. The increase was slightly faster than the 0.5% q-o-q rise under the flash estimates which were based on transactions up till mid-September, indicating that some sales in the last two weeks of 3Q23 were transacted at stronger price points.

The overall price gain in 3Q23 was mainly driven by the 5.5% q-o-q and 2.1% q-o-q price escalations of private non-landed homes in the Outside Central Region (OCR) and the Rest of Central Region (RCR), respectively. Genuine housing needs from local resident homebuyers continued to support demand, and higher price levels were also set by projects launches in these regions in 3Q23, with developers having committed to steeper land and related development costs previously.

During the quarter, new private residential project launches in the RCR included Grand Dunman, Pinetree Hill and TMW Maxwell, which all set new launch price points. In the OCR new launches included The Arden, The Myst, Lentor Hill Residences and The Lakegarden Residences. Market response and sales performance for these projects in the quarter were mixed, signalling price resistance and weariness among buyers following a slew of project launches.

On the other hand, the price falls for non-landed homes in the Core Central Region (CCR) and landed properties tempered the overall price increase for all private residential properties. Prices in the CCR fell 2.7% q-o-q in 3Q23, extending the 0.1% dip in 2Q23. The CCR sub-market is subject to greater challenges than the RCR and OCR, as it has a greater exposure to foreign purchasers and property investors and the prohibitive hikes in ABSD rates on these buyers have subdued demand and weighed on prices in the CCR. After the doubling of the ABSD for foreigners in April 2023, the proportion of foreign homebuyers in the CCR shrank to 5.3% in 3Q23, lower than the 10.0% in 2Q23 and the 15.0% in 1Q23.

Year-to-date as of 3Q23, the price index has climbed by 3.9% and remains at an all-time high. However, the momentum of price increase in the first three quarters of 2023 is slower than the 8.2% escalation over the same period in 2022 and the 5.3% rise from 1Q-3Q21.

The changes in URA’s price indices in 3Q23 are tabulated below.

URA Private Residential Property Price Index Q-o-Q Changes

2Q23 3Q23
Overall -0.2% 0.8%
Non-landed -0.6% 2.2%
CCR -0.1% -2.7%
RCR -2.5% 2.1%
OCR 1.2% 5.5%
Landed 1.1% -3.6%

Source: URA, JLL Research

Islandwide rents record sub 1% q-o-q growth for the first time in 11 quarters amid a surge in project completions

In the private leasing market, the number of leasing agreements rose by 17.3% q-o-q to total 23,145 contracts in 3Q23. The rise is in line with the typical home leasing market cycle with the third quarter being the peak period. On a y-o-y basis, the volume of leasing contracts declined by 9.8%, as soaring rents and comparatively bleaker economic conditions over the period curbed leasing commitments.

Reflecting the leasing trend, the rental index for islandwide private residential homes continued to strengthen in 3Q23 to a new peak, albeit at a markedly slower pace of 0.8% q-o-q compared to 2.8% q-o-q in the previous quarter. This was the slowest quarterly rise since the 0.1% gain in 4Q20, when Singapore was still reeling from the pandemic and signals a strengthening tenant’s market, as housing options have expanded with increased project completions. Tenants also sought more affordable options, which resulted in rents in the prime CCR sub-market correcting for the first time since 4Q20 by 1.7% q-o-q in 3Q23 and reversing the 2.0% q-o-q rise in the previous quarter. Those looking to rent at less prohibitive rents supported leasing demand and quarterly rent increases of 1.9% q-o-q in the RCR and 1.3% q-o-q in the OCR, but the tentative stance of lessees and ample choices in the market have also weakened the extent of rent increases.

Outlook

Investors are expected to hold off purchasing in the near term, while genuine demand from owner-occupiers seeking accommodation will continue to support buying demand for private homes. However, these buyers will remain price-sensitive and guarded in their purchasing decisions due to prolonged market challenges, including high interest rates, inflationary and recessionary pressures and market cooling measures. Potential buyers could continue to favour new projects over resale homes given the tight resale stock but the ample choices in the primary market will also see them exercising more discretion.

With a total of 5,329 new units sold as of 3Q23, overall private new home sales in 2023 are expected to hover around 6,500 – 7,000 units, below the 7,099 units sold in 2022.

Developers are foreseen to be cautious and realistic in their project pricing strategies to drive sales, as buyers remain cost-sensitive. However, significant price cuts are not expected unless there is a prolonged economic recession and job losses. The high land costs previously committed by developers for upcoming projects, combined with the current low inventory of unsold homes should support price levels. Private home prices have increased 3.9% in the first three quarters of 2023 and should remain relatively stable in the near term.

In the leasing market, the completion of more properties will enlarge the supply of units available for lease, further reducing the upward pressure on rents. The number of completions is expected to peak at 19,050 units in 2023, almost double the 9,526 units completed in 2022 and the highest since 2016 when 20,803 units were completed. The surge in completions will fortify the bargaining power of tenants given ample options in the market. Leasing demand, on the other hand, could soften as the inflow of expatriates are likely to slow amid macroeconomic uncertainties, and homeowners initially displaced due to construction delays start to move into their newly homes. With slower demand, landlords will be more willing to negotiate.

Office

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

Office rents based on contract date fall for the first time in over 5 quarters

URA’s headline office property rent index, which JLL understands to be based on lease commencement date, recorded a sharp 4.9% q-o-q jump in 3Q23, up from 2.3% q-o-q in the preceding quarter. We believe this is largely attributable to leasing deals concluded several quarters back when occupier demand was robust, underpinned by the explosive growth of the technology sector. 

Based on leases contracted in 3Q23, URA’s real estate statistics showed that median rents fell for the first time in five and eight quarters for Categories 1 and 2 office space, respectively. 

In the first three quarters of 2023, islandwide rents of private homes have increased by 11.1%, substantially slower than the 20.8% growth in rents from 1Q-3Q22. Rents were up by 10.4% in the RCR in 1Q-3Q23 and by 10.6% in the OCR during the same period. Correspondingly, rents in the CCR logged a slower growth of 6.7%.

Table 1: Median Rentals of Office Space

Median Rentals (SGD psf pm) Based on Lease Commencement Median Rents (SGD psf pm) Based on Contract Date
Cat 1 q-o-q Cat 2 q-o-q Cat 1 q-o-q Cat 2 q-o-q
1Q22 10.69 2.4% 5.20 2.2% 10.25 1.6% 5.32 3.9%
2Q22 10.79 0.9% 5.41 4.0% 10.09 -1.6% 5.41 1.7%
3Q22 10.89 0.9% 5.60 3.5% 10.66 5.6% 5.57 3.0%
4Q22 11.16 2.5% 5.70 1.8% 10.75 0.8% 5.70 2.3%
1Q23 11.28 1.1% 5.90 3.5% 10.77 0.2% 5.80 1.8%
2Q23 11.44 1.4% 6.25 5.9% 11.49 6.7% 6.19 6.7%
3Q23 12.31 7.6% 6.24 -0.2% 11.22 -2.3% 5.91 -4.5%

Source: URA, JLL Research 

Note : The URA defines Category 1 offices as “those 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”. All other office spaces are classified as Category 2 offices. 

This is in line with JLL’s findings that the rents for CBD Grade A offices declined in 3Q23, ending nine quarters of consecutive growth. Specifically, the average gross effective rents for the basket of CBD Grade A office space tracked by JLL fell 0.3% q-o-q to SGD 11.29 per sq ft per month in 3Q23, from SGD 11.32 per sq ft in 2Q23.

3Q23 rent correction came as tenants took advantage of the soft leasing market to negotiate for more favourable rental terms. To bolster occupancy in a market currently dominated by small-to-medium space users, landlords are taking proactive steps such as sub-dividing larger spaces into leasable units, providing ready-fitted units, and adjusting their rental expectations to meet the market.

Short-term oversupply of office space to keep rents under pressure

Islandwide office completions is set to hit a seven-year high in 2024. In the CBD alone, close to 1.9 million sq ft of space is scheduled for completion in 2024 from projects such as IOI Central Boulevard Towers (1.3 million sq ft) and Keppel South Central (0.6 million sq ft). As of 3Q23, we estimate that close to 1.1 million sq ft of this space remained uncommitted.

With demand foreseen to stay subdued as occupiers apply a tentative mindset towards their real estate strategy amid heightened geopolitical tensions and the higher-for-longer interest rate environment, the sheer amount of office space to be filled in 2024 will continue to put downward pressure on rents in the coming quarters.

Retail

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 reflect sustained recovery in the broader retail property market
The URA statistics released today showed the retail property market recovery continues to gain traction.

URA’s islandwide retail vacancy rates fell 0.3 percentage point q-o-q to 7.2% in 3Q23, the second straight quarter of decline, led by a 0.4 percentage point q-o-q fall in the vacancy rate in the Central Region to 8.8%, due to resilient occupier demand amid net space withdrawal. While the vacancy rate in the Outside Central Region edged up 0.2 percentage point q-o-q to 4.2% in 3Q23, the vacancy level is still tight and at the bottom end of the range of 4.2% to 8.5% over the five-year period (2015 to 2019) prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Backed by tightening vacancy rates, URA’s retail rental and price indices in the Central Region rose by 0.5% q-o-q and 0.6% q-o-q in 3Q23, respectively, marking the second consecutive quarter of increase in both indices.

The sustained recovery in tourism in 2023, the healthy pipeline of meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions activities, and the resilient domestic consumer market continued to spur business expansion. This led to the continuous decline in the vacancy rate in the Central Region in 3Q23, amid tight supply conditions, and contributed to the sustained recovery in the retail rental index.

Over the first nine months in 2023, Singapore’s visitor arrivals reached approximately 10.1 million. The positive growth momentum is expected to continue in 4Q23, well on track to meet the Singapore Tourism Board’s projected range of 12 to 14 million arrivals for full-year 2023, and in 2024, on the back of growing traveller confidence and increasing flight connectivity and capacity.

The growing pre-commitment rates of upcoming retail developments, including One Holland Village and Pasir Ris Mall, are a testament to the healthy demand for retail space.

In the capital markets, the rental growth in 3Q23 likely drove prices higher as investors continued to favour quality retail assets for the positive rent outlook and scarcity value.

Looking ahead, Singapore’s low unemployment rate and wage growth amid a tight labour market and a 22% increase (as of June 2023) in foreign professionals[1] in Singapore since the recent trough in December 2021 will continue to support domestic consumption. The recovery in international air travel and government-led tourism (leisure and business) infrastructure development and initiatives will also attract tourism.

This should continue to spur strategic business expansion, drive vacancy rates lower, amid a tight supply pipeline in the medium term, and support rent growth. We maintain our view that rents for prime floor space in JLL Research’s retail assets portfolio will grow by 1.5–2.5% y-o-y in 2023 and extend growth into 2024.

Considering Singapore’s safe-haven status, the favourable supply-demand fundamentals of the retail property market and the scarcity of tradeable assets, rising rents should underpin prices of prime floor space in quality retail assets in 2023 and 2024, notwithstanding higher yield expectations in an elevated interest rate environment.


About JLL

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