URA 4Q18 real estate statistics

The Urban Redevelopment Authority released statistics on the residential, office and retail property market for 4Q18 today.

January 25, 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)

Slower market activity moderates prices

In 4Q18, 1,657 private residential units were launched for sale, a 55.9% drop from the 3,754 units launched in 3Q18. The slower market due to the July cooling measures and the year-end holidays contributed to developers easing up on launches especially in December when only 101 new private homes were placed on the market. Sales take-up also moderated in tandem with launches as developers sold 1,836 private residential units in the fourth quarter, 39% less than in 3Q18. Meanwhile, transaction volume in the secondary market also declined to 2,024 units which is 26.5% lower than in the third quarter. Slower launches and sales in the primary market and easing of transactions in the secondary market have had an effect on prices in 4Q18 as reflected by the 0.1% softening in the URA private home price index. The index rose by 0.5% in 3Q18, when the market was more active.

Private Residential Units – Launch Supply, Units Sold and Price Change


Launched for sale

Units Sold by developers

Units sold in secondary market

Price change*











Source: URA/JLL Research

*Based on price index of private residential property

Performances in the sub-markets were patchy with the landed segment posting the highest price decline of 2% followed by non-landed properties in Core Central Region (CCR) which saw prices falling 1% while prices of non-landed homes in Rest of Central Region (RCR) and Outside Central Region (OCR) rose by 1.8% and 0.7% respectively. The higher price declines in the landed and CCR non-landed segments are likely due to their higher price levels which have to be discounted more significantly to attract buyers.

Launches and primary sales to pick up in 2019

8,769 private residential units were launched in 2018, 45.7% higher than in 2017. The abundant supply of units for sale is likely to result in increased launches in 2019 as developers see fit to continue launching projects to avoid a bunching up of supply if launches are held back. At the end of 4Q18, the number of unsold private residential units in the pipeline with planning approvals stand at 34,824, up from 30,467 units in 3Q18. We estimate that 10,000 to 12,000 new private homes could be launched in 2019 and 9,000 to 10,000 units could be sold. The strong supply and price-sensitive demand are likely to keep prices on a generally flat trajectory assuming fairly stable economic and market conditions.

Rents ended their three-quarter uptrend despite falling vacancy rates

New completions of private homes jumped 333.8% q-o-q and 11.1% y-o-y to 4,720 units in 4Q18. This is the highest quarterly completion level since 3Q16 when 4,970 units were completed. However, due to heightened withdrawal activities from projects that have gone en bloc, net new supply of private homes only rose 3,165 units in 4Q18. Coupled with net new demand quadrupling to 4,674 units, vacancy reached a five-year low of 6.4%.

However, tightening vacancy rates did not add pressure to rents. This may be due to landlords who are wary of the large pipeline supply coming up after 2020 being more flexible in closing leasing deals. It also shows the absence of strong leasing demand as policy controls on hiring of foreign labour remain in place and businesses become more cautious in hiring expatriates due to global uncertainties and an expected slower economy. 

The contraction in rents was witnessed across the different market segments, led by the landed segment which fell 2.1%. Rents of non-landed residential properties in the OCR registered the second highest decline, falling 1.7% q-o-q in 4Q18. Elsewhere, rents of non-landed residential properties in the CCR extended its 3Q18 fall of 0.9% q-o-q with another 0.6% q-o-q drop. The drop in rents of non-landed residential properties in RCR was the most gentle at 0.5% q-o-q.

In 2019, leasing market conditions would be mitigated by the low supply completions as well as the continued withdrawal of stock arising from the redevelopment of collective sale and en bloc sites. In addition, requirements from displaced owners and tenants of en bloc sales projects could provide a temporary boost to demand. The trend of falling vacancy rates is expected to continue into 2020, given the expected low completions of 8,926 units in 2019 and 4,332 units in 2020 before an upsurge to 12,354 units in 2021. Unfortunately for the leasing market, the reduced oncoming completed supply during this period coincides with global uncertainties and expected slower economic conditions which may not augur well for 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)

No brake in sight for office rental growth

URA’s 4Q18 real estate statistics released today affirmed that Singapore’s office property market ran a stunning race in 2018.

Specifically, full-year 2018 net absorption nearly tripled the 60,000 sqm absorbed in 2017 to reach a six-year high of 172,000 sqm. Not surprisingly, demand was concentrated in Downtown Core which accounted for more than 90% of the 172,000 sqm absorbed in 2018.  Besides the physical occupation in new projects the likes of Marina One and UIC Building by occupiers who signed the leases predominantly in 2016 and 2017, the sterling net absorption performance is also the result of robust backfilling of spaces vacated by these occupiers. This is a reflection of the upbeat business sentiment on the back of steady economic growth.

Indeed, 2018 saw robust leasing activity with demand stemming from a broad spectrum of industries ranging from technology and business services companies. Co-working operators remained a key demand driver with 4Q18 witnessing the sealing of one of the largest single-site leasing deal by a co-working operator in the CBD.  This was Campfire Collaborative Spaces leasing all 16 floors at 139 Cecil Street. When operational in 2019, its 85,000 sq ft of space will reportedly be Campfire’s largest site globally, and possibly one of the largest single-site co-working centre in Singapore to-date.

Stiff competition for the fast shrinking availability of space for lease amid falling pipeline supply led to office rents surging 7.4% y-o-y in 2018 following the 0.4% y-o-y uptick in 2017 as shown by URA’s office rental index for the Central Region.

JLL’s research also showed the growth of grade A CBD average monthly gross rents accelerated to 10.7% in 2018 from 7.7% in 2017, with 4Q18 increase keeping pace with 3Q18 following three quarters of deceleration in momentum.  Grade A CBD average monthly gross rents stood at SGD 10.16 per sq ft as of the end of 2018.

Given the robust leasing activity in 2018 that will see move-ins by occupiers spilling into 2019, we can expect the islandwide vacancy rate tracked by the URA which had slid from 12.6% in 2017 to 12.1% in 2018 to tighten further in 2019.  The squeeze for space will be particularly intense for JLL’s basket of Grade A office space in the CBD which we forecast to fall below frictional level by the end of 2019. This is expected to put further upward pressure on Grade A CBD rents which we envisage could record another year of growth to the tune of 8 or 9%, barring adverse external macro-economic conditions.

As such, we foresee that office demand will spill out of the CBD in 2019, with newer developments located close to the CBD enjoying an edge over others.  This will bode well for the Government’s drive to develop commercial nodes outside the CBD.  We are already observing an increasing number of corporates exploring real estate options outside the CBD in light of rising rents and limited availability of good quality space for lease in the CBD.


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

Firmer signs of recovery brightened 2019 outlook for Singapore retail property market

URA’s 4Q18 real estate statistics point to Singapore retail property market ending 2018 on a cautiously optimistic note with both the price and rental indices for the Central Region recording q-o-q upticks of above 1% for the first time since the series started in 2011. 

URA’s statistics further showed that 4Q18 islandwide net absorption reversed the contraction seen in 3Q18, and is the strongest quarterly net absorption recorded in 2018.  This is in line with JLL’s observation that occupier demand picked up in the final lap of 2018, underpinned by a broader mix of retailers including fashion & accessories as well as cosmetics retailers although F&B and entertainment trades remain as the key sources of demand. 

In terms of vacancy, Orchard Road continued to outperform as its vacancy rate slid to 5.1% in 4Q18 – the lowest since the 4.5% recorded in 3Q14.It is also the lowest vacancy rate recorded in 4Q18 amongst all the regions reported by the URA. This attests to the street’s continued appeal to new-to-market brands as well as those looking to expand their footprint in Singapore.

4Q18 set of numbers provide a hopeful sign that Singapore’s retail property market has embarked on a firmer path to recovery on the back of retailers and landlords’ rising dexterity in navigating the new retailing landscape amid steady consumer sentiment and an upbeat tourism sector.

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