URA 4Q23 real estate statistics
2023 ends well for private homes sales market
SINGAPORE, 26 January 2024 :The Urban Redevelopment Authority released statistics on the residential, office and retail property market for 4Q23 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)
2023 ends well for private homes sales market
All things considered, the private residential market demonstrated resilience in 2023, overcoming a range of challenges including market cooling measures, a dim economic outlook, high property prices, elevated mortgage rates and inflation to achieve a full year price growth of 6.8%.
Total sales volume in 2023 fell on heightened caution
In 4Q23, the primary home sales market was slower than the previous quarter but more active than in 4Q22. The 1,060 new private homes (excluding executive condominiums or ECs) launched in 4Q23 was 62.2% lower q-o-q but 110.3% higher y-o-y. Developer sales of 1,092 private residential units also dropped 43.9% q-o-q but was 58.3% higher y-o-y.
Rounding up 2023, despite launching 66.8% more units, developers sold 6,421 private residential units, a 9.6% decline from 2022. This represents the lowest annual new sales tally in 15 years since 2008, when 4,264 new homes were sold. The overall slowdown in new sales reflects the buyers’ cautious and selective approach arising from a general resistance to high prices amid downbeat macroeconomic conditions, high mortgage rates, market cooling measures and ample new housing options in the market. Buyers are also taking more time to carefully choose from a wide array of available options, all while closely monitoring upcoming launches.
The top selling projects in the primary market in 2023 were The Reserve Residences (663 units), Grand Dunman (616 units), Lentor Hill Residences (438 units), Tembusu Grand (377 units) and J’den (326 units).
The sales performance of these projects shows that buyers, despite being price conscious and highly discerning, are still drawn to projects that offer strong product quality and desirable locational attributes even if they come with a higher price tag. They gravitate towards properties that are conveniently situated near important amenities like MRT stations and have the potential for growth. Locations that have a scarcity of new supply also tend to generate pent-up demand among buyers.
The secondary market recorded 12,623 transactions in 2023, a drop of 14.7% from 2022. Besides the prevailing market challenges, a mismatch of price expectations between buyers and sellers due to price sensitivity and higher cost for replacement homes also contributed to a lower level of transactions.
Prices maintain a growth trajectory
Residential property prices continued to climb in 4Q23, rising at a faster q-o-q pace of 2.8% compared to 0.8% q-o-q in 3Q23. This growth was propped up by the robust sales of the non-landed launches of J’den and Watten House. Private home prices in the primary market have remained high due to costlier land and construction costs borne by developers.
Prices of landed properties rebounded by 4.6% q-o-q in 4Q23 after falling 3.6% in 3Q23, while prices in the non-landed segment grew 2.3% q-o-q, marginally faster than the previous quarter. The price increase for non-landed homes was driven by the 4.5% q-o-q rise in prices of properties in the Outside of Central Region (OCR) and the 3.9% q-o-q improvement in the Core Central Region (CCR) in 4Q23. Benchmark prices set at new launches in the OCR and CCR in 4Q23 underpinned the price appreciation during the quarter. However, the overall growth in prices was mitigated by a 0.8% q-o-q decline in prices in the Rest of Central Region (RCR).
Cumulatively, overall private home prices rose by 6.8% y-o-y in 2023, marking the seventh consecutive year of growth. Although the rate of growth slowed from the 8.6% escalation in 2022, it is still a notable feat given the challenges faced by the market. The market’s ability to maintain a positive price trend in the face of these difficulties reflects the resilient underlying demand, ample market liquidity and the sound financial position of buyers. It also signals a positive outlook for the market's long-term prospects.
The overall price increase in 2023 was driven by the landed housing market, where prices continued to climb by 8.0% y-o-y, albeit at a moderated pace compared to 2022 and 2021. Potential homebuyers continue to lean towards landed homes due to their aspirations for such scarce property types and their preferences for larger indoor and outdoor spaces.
In the non-landed segment, prices rose by 6.6% y-o-y in 2023, propelled by the 13.7% y-o-y price surge for non-landed homes in the OCR, which is faster than the 9.3% y-o-y increase in 2022 and 8.8% in 2021. Buying demand from local residents for suburban non-landed homes for their own occupancy and new project launches at higher price points have strengthened the price growth in the OCR.
Prices of private non-landed homes in the CCR and RCR segments rose by a milder pace of 1.9% and 3.1%, respectively in 2023 compared to 2022. The higher Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rate imposed on foreign buyers and investors dampened demand from these groups, but local buyers seeking opportunities and value deals in the CCR helped to mitigate the slowdown in price growth.
The changes in URA’s price indices in 4Q23 are tabulated below.
URA Private Residential Property Price Index Q-o-Q Changes
Source: URA, JLL Research
Islandwide rents record first correction in 12 quarters amid strong tenant resistance to high rents, softer leasing demand and an abundance of leasing supply
The number of rental contracts for private residential homes islandwide (excluding ECs) fell on a quarterly basis, a common year-end trend. However, leasing contract volume also fell 9.9% in 4Q23 compared to 4Q22 due to softer leasing demand as requirements from homeowners leasing in the interim had dwindled while the number of foreign expatriates entering Singapore for work was limited. Businesses were cautious in hiring amid a more subdued economy and uncertain market environment.
The shift in the leasing market in favour of tenants is more prominent in 4Q23, with the rental index for islandwide private residential homes falling for the first time since 3Q20. The pace of quarterly rental decline in 4Q24 was the strongest in more than 14 years since islandwide rents fell 5.2% q-o-q in 2Q09 following the global financial crisis in 2008.
The bulk of projects previously delayed due to the pandemic had been issued Temporary Occupation Permits (TOPs) and the number of new completions in 2023 more than doubled to 19,968 units, hitting a seven-year high. Numerous large-scale projects received TOPs at year-end, such as Parc Clematis (1,468 units) and Sengkang Grand Residences (680 units) in the OCR, Amber Park (592 units) in the RCR and Leedon Green (638 units) in the CCR.
With the surge in new home completions, homeowners who were temporarily displaced due to construction delays can now exit the leasing market and move into their newly completed homes. Concurrently, prospective tenants now have the upper hand in lease negotiations on the back of an increase in leasing options.
Among the market segments, rents in the OCR registered the sharpest quarterly rental decline in 4Q23, its first correction since 2Q20. In the RCR, rents also fell for the first time in 13 quarters. Rental declines in these market segments are mainly due to the spike in new completions. Rents in the CCR fell for the second consecutive quarter in 4Q23, as tenants continued to seek more affordable options outside the CCR.
For full-year 2023, rental growth has slowed significantly to 8.7% compared to the 29.7% escalation in 2022. This trend of a moderated rent growth in 2023 compared to 2022 is also recorded across the different market segments. Rents in the RCR were up by 9.0% compared to the 30.3% increase in 2022, and in the OCR, rents rose 7.5% in 2023 against the 31.8% increase in the previous year. Correspondingly, rents in the CCR were 5.0% up compared to the 28.2% rise in 2022.
Guarded optimism with a mild price growth projected for 2024
Our outlook for 2024 is one of guarded optimism, with expectations of a fairly resilient home sales market.
Foreign buyers and investors will remain deterred by the stricter ABSD measures, while buyers' homeownership aspirations and genuine demand from local buyers purchasing for their own occupancy will continue to underpin private sales.
Yet, buyer caution and selectivity are expected to persist in 1H24 due to economic uncertainties, high-interest rates, inflation concerns, high prices, and an increased number of options available on the market. Hence, despite the healthy state of household balance sheets, homebuyers will remain highly discerning in their decision-making process and take more time to commit to a purchase. Nevertheless, it is expected that prospective homebuyers will be driven to commit when presented with appealing and captivating projects, as evident by the recent successful launches of J’den and Watten House.
To adapt to market conditions, developers are likely to adopt more sensitive pricing strategies. However, it is improbable that significant price corrections will occur, as the prices of new projects should hold up given the substantial investments already made in land and development costs. There should also be room for developers to calibrate higher prices for selected prominent projects with unique and strong product and locational selling points.
2H24 is anticipated to bring more favourable conditions, including low unemployment rates, ample market liquidity, and improvements in the economic and interest rate environment. These factors, combined with a potential robust launch pipeline of over 12,000 new units for the year, are expected to bolster buyers' confidence and stimulate demand. It is also noteworthy that historical trends have demonstrated that market slowdowns can swiftly rebound, leading to increased home sales and price growth when the external environment improves.
New home sales volume in 2024 could hover around 7,000 – 8,000 units. This will be above 2023’s sales total of 6,421 units but below the annual average of 9,288 units in the last five years from 2019 to 2023. On balance, overall private home prices are projected to rise by 3% to 5% in 2024.
In the leasing market, the tight supply situation should continue to alleviate with more project completions and softer leasing demand. Macroeconomic headwinds are weighing on business sentiment and expatriate hirings and local leasing demand is expected to ease with interim demand dissipating as tenants exit the leasing market to move into their new homes. This will continue to take some pressure off rents.
Despite a higher property tax burden in 2024 due to higher annual values and property tax rates on top of other property holding costs such as higher mortgage rates, landlords are highly unlikely to pass the increase in property tax to tenants in a slowing rental market.
Rents for prime properties are foreseen to stay depressed in 1H24 before stabilising on the back of the expected improvement in economic conditions in 2H24. Rents for mass-market homes should stay on a gentle growth path and support an islandwide rent growth of up to 3% for full-year 2024.
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 office property market in 4Q23
Singapore’s office property market ended 2023 on a soft note, with rent growth slowed to a crawl while prices plunged a steep -5.9% q-o-q in 4Q23, based on URA’s statistics released today. These came on the back of the weakest net increase in occupied space in four quarters, and three straight quarters of lacklustre price growth, respectively.
JLL had started to observe weakening occupier demand as early as 2Q23. The downcast global and domestic economic outlook at the start of the year, coupled with the higher-for-longer interest rates environment, had kept occupiers wary and saw many corporates shelving expansion and relocation plans in order to manage costs. Leases sealed in 2023 largely originated from enquiries in 2022 while new space requirements in 2023 stemmed mainly from small to medium-sized space users, including new entrants.
Consequently, the average monthly gross effective rent for the basket of Grade A CBD offices tracked by JLL flattened out in 2Q23 and started to trend down from 3Q23, ending the climb that began in 2Q21. Nonetheless, as the corrections were modest, the average monthly gross effective rent of SGD 11.27 psf at the end of the year for Grade A CBD offices were still 0.7% above the SGD 11.19 psf recorded in 4Q22.
The steep -5.9% q-o-q fall in the URA’s office property price index in 4Q23 following three quarters of lacklustre growth is not surprising considering the immense asset repricing pressure that has built up arising from the negative yield spread over borrowing costs for most office assets in the prolonged elevated interest rate environment.
Potential for pent-up demand to be unleashed in 2H24
Soft occupier sentiment will likely linger for a while more. However, past experience has shown demand for office space to be capable of a quick rebound on improved economic conditions.
Singapore’s economy is already showing signs of a nascent recovery with advanced estimates showing 4Q23 GDP growth accelerating to 2.8% y-o-y from 1.0% y-o-y in 3Q23. The extension of this recovery into 1H24 could lift business confidence and unleash pent-up demand in 2H24. Occupiers who have held back relocation or expansion plans in 2023 could restart new leases negotiation conversations. Should this pan out, office rents could firm and potentially trend up in 2H24.
On the capital market front, we observed that with the end of FED rate-hike cycle in sight, investors who have been waiting on the sidelines are starting to re-enter the market. The successful sale of VisionCrest Commercial in Orchard to the consortium comprising TE Capital Partners, LaSalle Investment and Metro Holdings in November 2023 could pave the way for more office deal making in 2024, thus supporting upside in asset prices by 2H24.
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 rise y-o-y in 2023 for the first time since 2019
The URA statistics released today showed that the retail property market recovery remained largely on track.
Resilient occupier demand and moderated supply continued to drive retail vacancy rates lower. URA’s islandwide vacancy rate declined 0.7 percentage point q-o-q to 6.5% in 4Q23, the third straight quarter of decline, led by a 1.0 percentage point q-o-q decline in the vacancy rate in the Central Region to 7.8%.
We observed strategic expansion from diverse trades, primarily food and beverage operations, fashion apparel brands, active lifestyle/sports-related operations and beauty and wellness establishments. The opening of One Holland Village shopping mall in 4Q23 with full occupancy further attests to the healthy demand for retail space.
Retail asset prices continued to rise. The URA price index in the Central Region rose 1.2% q-o-q in 4Q23, marking the third consecutive quarter of increase. This resulted in a full-year growth of 1.2% y-o-y, rising for the first time since 2019.
Increasing capital allocation towards retail assets likely drove retail asset prices higher as investors continued to favour quality retail assets for the rent growth outlook, the favourable supply-demand fundamentals of the retail property market, a positive yield spread over funding costs and the scarcity value.
However, retail rents dipped marginally in 4Q23 despite firm occupier demand and tightening vacancy rates. URA’s retail rental index in the Central Region dipped 0.1% q-o-q in 4Q23, reversing the previous two consecutive quarters of increase. The uncertain economic outlook leading to landlords compromising on rents to prioritise occupancy rates likely led to the dip in rents in 4Q23. Nonetheless, URA’s retail rental index in the Central Region grew by 0.4% y-o-y in 2023, rising for the first time since 2019.
Looking ahead, retailers should continue to expand strategically as sustained domestic consumption, underpinned by Singapore’s tight labour market, and tourism growth (business and leisure) will continue to instil business confidence. Retailers, however, are expected to proceed with expansion plans with greater caution in the near-term, focusing on proven retail locations with healthy footfall in the face of persisting inflationary pressures driving operational costs higher, dampening profit margins and weighing on consumer sentiment.
This will drive vacancy rates lower in 2024, amid a moderated supply pipeline, and extend rent growth into 2024. Based on JLL Research’s retail asset portfolio, rents for prime floor space are projected to continue growing into 2024 by 1.5–2.5% y-o-y.
With market liquidity coupled with the scarcity of tradeable retail assets, rising rents should drive the price growth of prime floor space in quality retail assets in 2024.
For over 200 years, JLL (NYSE: JLL), a leading global commercial real estate and investment management company, has helped clients buy, build, occupy, manage and invest in a variety of commercial, industrial, hotel, residential and retail properties. A Fortune 500® company with annual revenue of $20.9 billion and operations in over 80 countries around the world, our more than 105,000 employees bring the power of a global platform combined with local expertise. Driven by our purpose to shape the future of real estate for a better world, we help our clients, people and communities SEE A BRIGHTER WAYSM. JLL is the brand name, and a registered trademark, of Jones Lang LaSalle Incorporated. For further information, visit jll.com.