Singapore's Residential Property Market Analysis 2024

Singapore´s house prices continue to increase, albeit at a much slower pace, amidst weak demand primarily due to the introduction of new rounds of market-cooling measures last year.

In the first quarter of 2024, the nationwide private residential property index increased by 4.88% as compared to a year earlier, a sharp slowdown from the prior year´s strong growth of 11.44%, according to figures released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). It was the second lowest y-o-y price increase recorded since Q4 2020. When adjusted for inflation, prices were up by a meager 1.85% y-o-y in Q1 2024.

During the latest quarter (i.e. q-o-q in Q1 2024), residential property prices rose by 1.39% (1.2% inflation-adjusted).

"The slower price increase reflects the cautious stance among homebuyers towards lofty price levels amid slower wage growth and soft economic conditions," said JLL. "Still, despite the tempered price growth, the sustained uptrend in prices amidst a decline in overall sales volume underscores the resilience of underlying demand, reflecting the healthy state of household liquidity."

Singapore´s house price annual change

By region:

  • In Core Central Region (CCR), prices of non-landed private residential properties rose by 4.43% (1.42% inflation-adjusted) in Q1 2024 from a year earlier, following a y-o-y increase of 5.77% in the same period last year, according to URA. Quarter-on-quarter, prices increased by 3.38% (3.19% inflation-adjusted) during the latest quarter.
  • In the Rest of Central Region (RCR), property prices fell by 0.94% (-3.8% inflation-adjusted) in Q1 2024 from the previous year, a sharp turnaround from a huge growth of 17.72% in Q1 2023. Quarter-on-quarter, prices rose by a meager 0.28% (0.1% inflation-adjusted) during the latest quarter.
  • In Outside Central Region (OCR), property prices soared by 11.83% (8.6% inflation-adjusted) during the year to Q1 2024, following a y-o-y increase of 8.92% in the prior year. During the latest quarter, prices increased slightly by 0.2% (unchanged when adjusted for inflation).

Residential property prices in Singapore rose by a cumulative 47% (26% inflation-adjusted) from 2016 to 2023, after falling by about 8% (7% inflation-adjusted) in the three years prior.

Demand remains weak, amidst the introduction of new rounds of market-cooling measures last year. During 2023, total home sales, which include new sales, sub-sales, and resales, plunged 13% year-on-year to 19,044 units, following a huge decline of 34.8% in 2022, according to URA figures. In fact, it was the lowest level recorded since 2016. Then in the first quarter of 2024, there were a total of 4,230 home sales recorded, up by a modest 2.6% from a year earlier but down by 2.4% from the previous quarter.

Residential property prices are expected to continue rising moderately this year. "With prices already having risen significantly and buyers becoming more resistant to higher prices, there may be limited potential for robust increases. Yet, the low unsold stock is expected to underpin a modest rise in prices. Private home prices are expected to strengthen by 3% to 5% in 2024, slower than the 6.8% increase in 2023," JLL noted.

The overall economy is growing modestly. In Q1 2024, Singapore´s economy grew by 2.7% from a year earlier, following y-o-y expansions of 2.2% in Q4 2023, 1% in Q3, 0.5% in Q2, and another 0.5% in Q1, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI). It was the thirteenth straight quarter of y-o-y economic expansion. On a quarterly seasonally-adjusted basis, real GDP grew by a minuscule 0.1% in Q1 2024, down from an expansion of 1.2% in the previous quarter.

Singapore´s economy is projected to expand by 1% to 3% this year, based on a recent forecast released by MAS, after registering a sluggish growth of 1.1% in 2023.

Prices of newly-launched developments

Prices in newly launched residential developments in the second half of 2023 (based on Savills´ Q3 and Q4 2023 report):

In Core Central Region (CCR):

  • In Orchard Sophia, located at Sophia Road, prices of residential units ranged from SG$2,758 (US$2,039) to SG$2,895 (US$2,141) per sq. ft. Of the 78 units offered, 28 units are already sold.

In the Rest of the Central Region (RCR):

  • In Watten House, situated at Shelford Road, residential units are offered for a price range from SG$3,077 (US$2,275) to SG$3,545 (US$2,621) per sq. ft. About 63.4% of the total 180 units available are already sold.
  • In Grand Dunman, at Dunman Road, a total of 1,008 residential units are offered at a price range of SG$2,108 (US$1,559) to SG$2,805 (US$2,074) per sq. ft. About 57.3% were already sold.
  • In Pinetree Hill, at Pine Grove, residential units are priced from SG$2,215 (US$1,638) to SG$2,705 (US$2,000) per sq. ft. Of the 520 units offered in the market, 143 units were already sold.
  • At the TMW Maxwell, located on Maxwell Road, prices of residential units range from SG$3,143 (US$2,324) to SG$3,739 (US$2,765) per sq. ft. A total of 324 units are available.

In the Outside Central Region (OCR):

  • In Hillock Green, located in Lentor Central, prices of residential units ranged from SG$1,882 (US$1,392) to SG$2,423 (US$1,792) per sq. ft. More than one-fourth of the 474 units offered were already sold.
  • In J´den, located at the Jurong East Central 1, residential units are priced from SG$2,109 (US$1,560) to SG$2,824 (US$2,088) per sq. ft. About 89% of the 368 units available were already sold.
  • In Lentor Hills Residences, located at Lentor Hills Road, prices of residential units ranged from SG$1,834 (US$1,356) to SG$2,451 (US$1,812) per sq. ft. Two-thirds of the 598 units offered are already sold.
  • In The Myst, situated at the Upper Bukit Timah Road, residential units are priced from SG$1,897 (US$1,403) to SG$2,323 (US$1,718) per sq. ft. Of the 408 units available, 153 units are sold.
  • In the Lakegarden Residences, at Yuan Ching Road, prices of residential units ranged from SG$1,880 (US$1,390) to SG$2,362 (US$1,747) per sq. ft. Of the 306 units available, 71 units were sold.
  • In The Arden, situated on Phoenix Road, 105 residential units are offered for a price range between SG$1,565 (US$1,157) and SG$1,861 (US$1,376) per sq. ft. About 30% were already sold.
  • In The Shorefront, at Jalan Loyang Besar, 23 residential units are offered in the market for a price range of SG$1,897 (US$1,403) to SG$1,919 (US$1,419) per sq. ft.

Singapore Residential Property Price Index by Region graph

New rounds of property curbs

In February 2023, the government increased the buyer´s stamp duty rates for higher-value properties. More specifically, the portion of a property´s value in excess of SG$1.5 million (US$1.11 million) and up to SG$3 million (US$2.22 million) are taxed at 5%, while those in excess of SG$3 million are taxed at 6%.

Then in an expected move to restrain speculative buying and restrain house price increases, the government introduced another round of measures in April 2023, raising the additional buyer´s stamp duty (ABSD) rates further to "promote a sustainable property market and prioritize housing for owner-occupation," said the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Ministry of Finance (MOF), and Ministry of National Development (MND) in a joint statement.

"Demand from locals purchasing homes for owner-occupation has been especially strong, and there has also been renewed interest from local and foreign investors in our residential property market," said the authorities. "If left unchecked, prices could run ahead of economic fundamentals, with the risk of a sustained increase in prices relative to incomes."

For Singaporean citizens, in April 2023 the ABSD rate was raised from 17% to 20% for those buying their second residential property, and from 25% to 30% for those buying their third and subsequent properties.

For permanent residents (PRs), the ABSD rate for second residential property purchases will rise from 25% to 30% and from 30% to 35% for third and subsequent property purchases.

Foreigners buying any residential property will now pay an ABSD flat rate of 60%, double the prior rate of 30%. For entities buying any residential property, the ABSD rate was also raised from 35% to 65%.

ADDITIONAL BUYER´S STAMP DUTY RATES
  Rates from Jul 6, 2018, to Dec 15, 2021 Rates from Dec 16, 2021, to Apr 26, 2023 New rates from Apr 27, 2023
Singaporeans Buying 1st residential property 0% 0% 0%
Buying 2nd residential property 12% 17% 20%
Buying 3rd and subsequent residential property 15% 25% 30%
Permanent Residents Buying 1st residential property 5% 5% 5%
Buying 2nd residential property 15% 25% 30%
Buying 3rd and subsequent residential property 15% 30% 35%
Foreigners Buying any residential property 20% 30% 60%
Entities Buying any residential property 25% 35% 65%
Housing Developers Buying any residential property 25% + non-remittable 5% 35% + non-remittable 5% 35% + non-remittable 5%
Sources: Dentons Rodyk & Davidson LLP, MOF, MND, MAS, Global Property Guide

Months earlier, in September 2022, the Singaporean government introduced several market curbs to restrain property demand and encourage prudent borrowing. These include the following:

  • The medium-term interest rate floor used to compute the total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) and mortgage servicing ratio (MSR) was raised by 0.5 percentage points for property loans granted by private financial institutions;
  • An interest rate floor of 3% for Housing and Development Board (HDB) loan eligibility letter applications from September 30, 2022, was introduced; and,
  • The loan-to-value (LTV) limit for HDB housing loans was lowered further from 85% to 80% of the flat value (after it was lowered from 90% to 85% in December 2021), effectively lowering the amount that home buyers can borrow;
  • A 15-month wait period for current and former owners of private residential property to purchase a non-subsidized HDB resale flat was imposed from September 30, 2022, onwards.

These measures came after previous curbs in December 2021 raised the ABSD rates for nearly all types of buyers.

Singapore government firmly restrains property prices

The moderation of house prices over the past years is the result of deliberate government policy.

Before and after the global economic crisis, Singapore´s property market surged. The residential property price index rose 38.2% during the space of only one year to Q2 2010 (34% inflation-adjusted).

The Singapore government sensibly took steps, and when these turned out to be not enough, took further measures.

In October 2012 it limited the mortgage term to 35 years and lowered loan-to-value (LTV) ratios to 60% for loans longer than 30 years (or loans stretching beyond age 65).

This was only the first of 10 rounds of property-market cooling measures.

Seller´s stamp duty (SSD) was then introduced on owner-occupied housing sold within a year of purchase. A little later, the stamp duty was revised upwards, with sales of owner-occupied houses sold within a year of acquisition taxed at 16% of the sale price. Then the holding period was increased from one year to four years. In subsequent rounds, LTV ratios were lowered and the minimum cash down payment increased.

Despite these measures, property prices kept surging. In the sixth round, new residential loans were capped at 35 years, with existing loans over 35 years facing tighter LTV ratios. In the seventh round, the government revised the additional buyer´s stamp duty (ABSD), increasing rates from 5% to 7% for Permanent Residents (PRs) first residential property purchase, and Singaporeans´ second residential purchase.

This resulted in a 23.5% decline in sales transactions within a year, but prices continued to surge till the end of 2013.

Eighth, ninth, and tenth rounds of market-cooling measures followed.

These market-cooling measures have been effective, as evidenced by the 10% decline in property prices from 2014 to 2017.

After partially relaxing its market-cooling measures in March 2017, the Singaporean government reversed gear after 2017 sales reached 25,010 units, up 52.7% y-o-y - the biggest increase since 2009, according to URA.

From July 6, 2018, the ABSD rates were raised by 5% for all homebuyers and by 10% for entities, except for Singaporean citizens (SCs) and permanent residents (PRs) purchasing their first residential property. An additional ABSD of 5% was also introduced for developers buying residential properties for housing development.

The government also tightened loan-to-value (LTV) limits on residential property loans from 80% to 75%.

Also, the government raised the stamp duty on home purchases with a value exceeding SG$ 1 million (US$ 739,590) from 3% to 4% in February 2018.

These property curbs have successfully restrained the market in recent years.

Residential property sales still weak

Demand remains fragile, amidst the introduction of new rounds of market-cooling measures. During 2023, total home sales, which include new sales, sub-sales and resales, plunged 13% year-on-year to 19,044 units, following a huge decline of 34.8% in 2022, according to URA figures. In fact, it was the lowest level recorded since 2016.

"Over the past year, potential homebuyers have become increasingly cautious, prompted by successive rounds of market cooling measures, economic challenges, and elevated financing costs. With a greater array of choices and rising prices, homebuyers are now more discerning and price-sensitive, resulting in slower sales as they deliberate longer before committing to a purchase," said JLL.

Then in the first quarter of 2024, there were a total of 4,230 home sales recorded, up by a modest 2.6% from a year earlier but down by 2.4% from the previous quarter.

In Q1 2024:

  • Uncompleted private residential property sales fell by 3.4% y-o-y to 1,124 units, following a 9% decline in the whole year of 2023.
  • Completed private residential property sales plunged by 57% y-o-y to 40 units, after falling by 24.2% in 2023.
  • Sub-sales skyrocketed by 55.1% y-o-y to 377 units in Q1 2024, after increasing strongly by 69.2% in 2023.
  • Re-sales rose modestly by 2.6% y-o-y to 2,689 units, following an annual decline of 19.2% in 2023.

Singapore Number of Dwelling Units Sold graph

By region:

  • In Core Central Region, property sales plummeted by 44.5% y-o-y to 605 units in Q1 2024 from a year earlier, following a decline of 17.8% in the full year of 2023. On a quarterly basis, sales were down by 18.7% in Q1 2024.
  • In the Rest of the Central Region, sales were up by 5.1% y-o-y to 1,148 units in Q1 2024, an improvement from a 2.2% fall in 2023. Though quarter-on-quarter, sales were still down by 5% during the latest quarter.
  • In Outside Central Region, sales increased strongly by 27.8% y-o-y to 2,477 units in Q1 2024, a sharp turnaround from a decline of 18.2% in 2023. On a quarterly basis, sales were up by a modest 4% in Q1 2024.

Foreign demand is falling

Nearly 39% (about 2.3 million) of Singapore´s population are foreigners, the sixth-highest percentage of foreigners in the world. Of these, more than 9% (o.54 million) are permanent residents, and the remaining 28% (1.8 million) are expats, based on figures from the Department of Statistics Singapore.

Tighter immigration rules are being imposed by the government, due to strong popular disquiet. Beginning 1 September 2015 work pass holders need to meet a minimum fixed monthly salary of SG$5,000 (US$ 3,706) to sponsor the stay of their spouse/children here (on Dependant´s Pass) and a minimum fixed monthly salary of SG$10,000 (US$7,411) to sponsor the stay of their parents here (on Long Term Visit Pass).

Aside from the tighter immigration rules and the imposition of market-cooling measures, the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted demand from foreign homebuyers in the past years.

In the past four years from 2020 to 2023, the total number of private houses purchased by foreigners in Singapore dropped to their lowest levels in the past two decades. According to real estate consultancy firms ERA Realty Network and Orange Tee & Tie, the share of foreign homebuyers to total sales in the country fell to 4.1% in 2020, 4.5% in 2021, and 3.5% in 2022, as compared to about 7% to 8% share a decade ago. During 2023, the foreigners´ share in total house purchases was estimated at about 3%.

In fact, in Q4 2023, foreigners accounted for just 1.5% of the total number of private homebuyers in Singapore.

Purchases made by foreigners plunged to just 62 in Q4 2023, sharply down from 271 in Q1 2023 and the lowest level since the government first introduced ABSD in December 2011, said Lee Sze Teck of Huttons.

Mainland Chinese buyers typically account for the largest group of non-Singaporean homebuyers in the country, followed by Americans, Malaysians, Qataris, Indonesians, and Indians. In 2022, they purchased 241 non-landed private homes in Singapore, which constituted 26.5% of transactions by foreign buyers. However, it was the lowest since 2010 and represented only about 1.3% of total condo sales, said PropNex CEO Ismail Gafoor. Then in the second half of 2023, the number of homes purchased by Chinese buyers plunged to just 11, down from 177 in H1, according to Huttons.

As such, American buyers overtook the Chinese to become the biggest group of foreign homebuyers in Singapore in H2 2023. US citizens are treated the same as Singapore citizens under the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, that is, no additional buyer´s stamp duty is payable on the first Singapore residential property purchase.

Foreign demand is expected to remain subdued in the medium term, amidst the imposition of another round of market-cooling measures in April 2023, raising the ABSD rates further for nearly all types of buyers, including foreign homebuyers.

For foreigners, the ABSD doubled from the previous flat rate of 30% to 60%.

After the move, the proportion of foreign homebuyers in the CCR fell to 5.3% in Q3 2023, lower than the 10% in Q2 2023 and 15% in Q1 2023.

Foreign demand continues to fall this year. In Q1 2024, purchases by non-PR foreign buyers in Singapore accounted for just 1% of the total private transactions, down from a 6.4% share in Q1 2023, according to JLL.

"While total private residential transactions slowed 2.4% q-o-q in 1Q24, the latest available data on the URA Real Estate Information System (REALIS) showed that transactions involving non-permanent residents (non-PR) foreign buyers, fell more significantly, by 34.8% q-o-q, to only 43 units in 1Q24," said JLL.

Foreigners have been able to buy any apartment without prior government approval since the Residential Property Act of July 19, 2005. However, foreigners still cannot purchase vacant land and landed properties without permission from the Singapore Land Authority. Non-residential property is not subject to these ownership restrictions.

Construction activity stabilizing, residential supply moderating

In the first quarter of 2024, there were 1,304 uncompleted private residential units launched in Singapore, almost at par with the previous year´s 1,312 units, according to URA. This followed a strong growth of 66.8% in the whole year of 2023, and annual declines of 56.9% in 2022 and 3.6% in 2021.

Yet there are wide regional variations:

  • In CCR, launches plummeted by a huge 86.3% to just 20 units in Q1 2024 from 146 units in the same period last year.
  • In RCR, launches plunged by 56.1% to 224 units in Q1 2024 from 510 units in the previous year.
  • In OCR, launches were up strongly by 61.6% y-o-y to 1,060 units in Q1 2024 from 656 units in Q1 2023.

The total supply in the pipeline with planning approvals stood at 38,167 units in Q1 2024, up by 11.4% from the previous quarter but down sharply by 14.9% from the same period last year. Of these, 19,936 units are still available in the market, compared to 16,252 units a year earlier.

  • Private residential units under construction plummeted by 26.6% y-o-y to 25,553 units in Q1 2024. However, quarter-on-quarter, they increased by 5.2% during the latest quarter.
  • Planned development increased strongly by 25.7% to 12,614 units in Q1 2024 from a year ago and surged by 26.8% from the previous quarter.
MAJOR UPCOMING LAUNCHES, Q1 2024
Project Location Developer Locality No. of Units
Amber Sea Amber Gardens Urban Park Pte Ltd RCR 132
Residential apartments Enggor Street New Vision Holding Pte Ltd CCR 114
Kassia Flora Drive Tripartite Developers Pte Ltd OCR 280
The Hill @ One-North Slim Barracks Rise Kingsford Real Estate Development Pte Ltd RCR 142
Residential apartments Cairnhill Rise Ju-I Properties Pte Ltd CCR 75
Newport Residences Anson Road Hong Leong Properties Pte Ltd CCR 443
Skywaters Residences Shenton Way Perennial Shenton Property Pte Ltd CCR 201
Marina View Residences Marina View Boulevard Development Pte Ltd/ Boulevard Midtown Pte Ltd CCR 683
Sora Yuan Ching Road Lakeside Residential Pte Ltd OCR 440
The Collective At One Sophia Sophia Road Sophia Residential Pte Ltd/ Sophia Commercial Pte Ltd CCR 367
Hillhaven Hillview Rise East Residences Pte Ltd OCR 341
Lentoria Lentor Hills Road Lentor View Pte Ltd OCR 267
The Arcady At Boon Keng Serangoon Road KSH Ultra Unity Pte Ltd RCR 172
Condominium development Jalan Tembusu Sim Lian JV (Katong) Pte Ltd RCR 847
Lentor Mansion Lentor Gardens Lentor Mansion Pte Ltd OCR 533
Landed housing development Luxus Hill Heights/ Seletar Green Walk Singapore United Estates Pte Ltd OCR 156
Residential apartments Tanjong Rhu Road ZACD LV Development Pte Ltd RCR 107
Source: Savills Residential Sales Briefing, Q4 2023

There were a total of 410,400 housing units available in Singapore in Q1 2024, almost unchanged from the previous quarter but up by 4.1% from a year earlier, according to URA. Of which 382,671 units are occupied, while the remaining 27,729 units are available, making up a vacancy rate of 6.8%, down from 8.1% in the previous quarter.