URA 3Q18 real estate statistics

The Urban Redevelopment Authority released statistics on the residential, office and retail property market for 3Q18 today.

October 26, 2018

The Urban Redevelopment Authority released statistics on the residential, office and retail property market for 3Q18 today.


Mr Ong Teck Hui, Senior Director, Research & Consultancy

王德辉, 研究与咨询部高级董事(新加坡)

Private home price indices show disparate market dynamics

The overall price index for the private residential market shows a 0.5% increase in 3Q18, similar to that posted during the earlier flash estimate. However, the underlying sub-indices reveal disparate market dynamics. (Please refer to the table below).

The landed segment recorded a 2.3% increase in 3Q18, an improvement from the 1.7% increase during flash estimates. This is because many buyers still see the values of landed homes as relatively attractive. The landed price index in 3Q18 is still 7.3% lower than its peak in 3Q13, before landed prices declined due to the cooling measures then. On the other hand, the price index for non-landed homes in 3Q18 is already close to that in 3Q13 with a margin of only 1.9%.

While price dynamics in the landed segment remain positive, the situation in the non-landed segment is mixed. The -1.3% decline in the index for non-landed homes in Rest of Central Region (RCR) in 3Q18, is worse than the -0.8% captured during flash estimates. This is due to the effect of a significant launch supply in RCR during the third quarter. Of the 3,704 non-landed private homes launched island wide, 2,338 units or 63% were in RCR with the take-up of 1,748 units lagging launch supply quite substantially. The competition among new launches in 3Q18 also resulted in generally lower prices among the projects launched compared to 2Q18. For projects launched in 3Q18, the average of their median prices during the month of launch was $1,733 psf, lower than the $1,833 psf for the projects launched in the second quarter.

In Outside Central Region (OCR), launches were more moderate than RCR during the quarter, with developers placing 1,349 non-landed homes on the market, selling 1,092 units. The combination of ample supply and more cautious sentiments among buyers due to the cooling measures, contributed to the -0.1% slide in the non-landed index for OCR. The gentle easing in the OCR index could also be due to prices in the mass market segment being more affordable thus sustaining demand in spite of more cautious market sentiments.

Of the three sub-markets, Core Central Region (CCR) recorded launches of only 17 non-landed units, less than 1% of the total units launched in the non-landed market. The dearth of new supply resulted in buyers resorting to opportunities in the CCR secondary market which accounted for 91% of non-landed transactions during the quarter. The low sales volume of non-landed units in CCR (481 units) shows that units for sale in the market is not abundant and sellers may still be firm in their price expectations. These are likely contributors to the 1.3% rise in CCR’s non-landed index.

Private residential property price indices



3Q18 (Flash)

3Q18 (Actual)













- Core Central Region




- Rest of Central Region




- Outside Central Region




Source: URA Realis/JLL Research

Sustained launches expected in view of large potential launch supply

In 3Q18, developers launched 3,754 private residential units, 54% more than in 2Q18. They sold 3,012 units during the quarter, 27% more than in 2Q18. The strong launch and sales volume was due to the hasty launches of Stirling Residences, Park Colonial and Riverfront Residences on the night of 5 July 2018, to beat the cooling measures taking effect the next day. The sales in these three projects on 5 July alone accounted for 29% of primary market sales in 3Q18.

Launches of private homes from 1Q18 to 3Q18 totalled 7,112 units of which 6,959 were sold. The number of units launched in the first three quarters has already surpassed the 6,020 units launched in 2017 which is indicative of developers’ need to continue with launches in view of the large potential launch pipeline. With nearly 7,000 private residential units sold in the primary market in the first three quarters, the year could end with 8,500 to 9,500 new private homes being sold. Although buyers are more cautious and price-sensitive, many would still proceed to purchase if they feel that a project’s pricing is reasonable, which is seen in the healthy take-up rates in a number of new launches.

Vacancy rate fell to the lowest level in 4.5 years on the back of continued low completed supply

New completions of private homes continued to fall 18.0% q-o-q and 73.2% y-o-y to 1,088 units in 3Q18. This is the lowest quarterly completion level since 1Q07 when 716 units were completed. Coupled with the withdrawal of some residential projects for redevelopment purpose following their collective sales, net new supply fell to a mere 83 units in 3Q18, pushing vacancy to a 4.5-year low of 6.8%. Tightened supply conditions helped rents to rise for the third consecutive quarter though their growth fell back to 0.3% q-o-q in 3Q18, from 1.0% q-o-q in 2Q18. 

The slower pace of growth was due to a moderation in rental growth for landed properties as well as a contraction in rents for non-landed residential properties in the CCR. Rents of non-landed residential properties in the CCR fell 0.9% q-o-q in 3Q18, after registering a growth of 1.4% in 1H18. This can be attributed to its double-digit vacancy rate of 10.4%, which is the highest among all the market segments. Additionally, demand for private residential properties in the CCR was affected by the continued decline in the number of employment pass (EP) holders for the past 1.5 years. EP holders are widely recognised as the main drivers of leasing demand for prime residential properties in CCR given their higher income and housing budget.   

Though the trend of low net new supply is expected to continue for the rest of 2018 and in 2019, aided by more collective sales units being withdrawn from the market, rents are expected to remain flattish given the quieter sales market and muted foreign employment growth levels. Deterred by the quieter sales market, owners could end up placing their units for rent instead, adding to the leasing supply.


Ms. Tay Huey Ying, Head of Research and Consultancy, Singapore

郑惠匀, 研究与咨询部主管 (新加坡)

Tightening supply amid firm demand drove office rents further north


Demand for office space has continued to outpace supply for the fourth consecutive quarter in 3Q18, and this has driven a fifth straight quarter of rent growth, according to the latest real estate statistics released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) today. All in, the URA’s office rental index for the Central Region had climbed 12.2% from the bottom in 2Q17, but are still some 8.5% below the recent peak in 1Q15.

Given expectations of healthy economic growth underpinning demand, and tapering office pipeline supply, the rental index for office space in the Central Region is poised for further growth going into 2019. Based on the URA’s statistics, only 49,000 sqm gross floor area of office space is expected to be completed in 2019.  This is just about half of the 86,000 sqm expected to come on stream in 4Q18 on top of the net new supply of 99,000 sqm that was injected into stock in the first three quarters of 2018.

Zooming into Grade A office space in the CBD, JLL’s research showed that their average monthly gross rents have climbed by more than 18% from the bottom of SGD8.41 per sq ft in 1Q17 to SGD9.93 per sq ft by the end of 3Q18.  However, rent growth has slowed for three consecutive quarters, suggesting the setting in of occupier resistance.

In the near term, good grade offices outside the CBD can look forward to enjoying spillover demand from the CBD. Rising rents and shrinking leasing opportunities for good grade offices in the CBD are driving a growing number of occupiers to explore the option of maintaining a small presence in the CBD while locating the rest of the operations outside the CBD.  This will boost demand for office space outside the CBD and help in the government’s push to bring work closer to home.


Ms. Tay Huey Ying, Head of Research and Consultancy, Singapore

郑惠匀, 研究与咨询部主管 (新加坡)

Retail prices showing signs of potential for earlier recovery than rents

The retail property market stayed lacklustre in 3Q18, with the URA’s rental index for Central Region extending the decline that was recorded in 2Q18 following a momentary quarter of modest uptick in 1Q18.  The latest dip in rents came on the back of the 0.3 percentage point rise in islandwide vacancy rate from 7.3% in 2Q18 to 7.6% in 3Q18 as demand for retail space contracted.

Changing tenant profile to include large-form activity based retailers such as Superpark, ABC Cooking Studio, Holey Moley, is also believed to have played a part in keeping rents soft.  Landlords are increasingly adding such retailers in the hope of driving footfall to their malls.

On a brighter note, vacancy rates on Orchard Road continued to improve and by the end of 3Q18, they are 3.3 percentage points below the recent high of 9.2% in 2Q16.  This demonstrates that Singapore’s prime shopping belt remains appealing to retailers, both new-to-market and expanding brands, because of its diverse catchment comprising locals and tourists.

Looking forward, we expect landlords to have to continue to experiment with different tenant mix strategies in pursuit of improving occupancy and footfall.  The substantial supply coming on stream over the next 15 months amounting to a total gross floor area of 308,000 sqm will continue to weigh down rents.

In short, until brick-and-mortar retail stores manage to convert foot traffic into in-store purchases, rent movements are expected to remain subdued.

Prices, on the other hand, are demonstrating greater signs for firming as the URA’s price index for Central Region inched up a modest 0.3% q-o-q in 3Q18 – the second uptick in three quarters.  This could be an indication of strengthening investors interest given the 15.2% total price decline in the Central Region, and a more substantial 19.2% fall in the Central Area, from their recent peaks in 1Q15.  With more investors potentially diverting their interest from private residential to other asset classes to avoid hefty additional buyer stamp duties, coupled with the ample liquidity in the market, it looks like there is scope for retail prices to recover earlier than rents.


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