What is really happening in the Singapore property market, as told by the Heat Map

Over the last 4 weeks since we restarted The Straits Times Property News Heat Map, news flow has actually been pretty slow. With 53 articles talking about the property market in 4 weeks, that’s an average of 13.25 articles per week or 1.89 articles per day. In Season 1 (9 Sep 12 – 19 Jan 13), there were 273 articles in 19 weeks, or 14.37 articles per week, or 2.05 articles per day on average.

 Week of  Negative  Neutral  Positive  Total
13/5/13  1  6 3 10
20/5/13  2 6  3 11
27/5/13  2  13  5 20
3/6/13  2 8 2 12

The proportion of articles that were positive, neutral or negative is also instructive. We had 7 negative (13%), 33 neutral (62%) and 13 positive (25%) articles in the last 4 weeks. In Season 1, we had 10% negative, 49% neutral and 40% positive.What this tells me, without looking at other statistics, is that interest in property is dying down, at least in the papers. Additionally, the trends are a lot more muted than in the previous period. Of course, if you look at the entire context of the property market, this should be expected, with the government building many more HDBs, and cooling measures in January.

What’s also interesting is that the articles seem to be contradicting one another. If you look at articles on 8 Jun, you’ll see HDB resale prices and COVs dip on fewer transactions, but prices are up in all but four districts. Also, there was a marginal overall dip as the curbs’ impact is felt. Fwah! What’s a property buyer/seller to think or do?

Here is my interpretation of this conundrum. Basically, (resale and new) HDB prices are down and going further down. Resale private housing is up but volume is down. New projects are selling well, but are really just trading at the market. This is because the government has now required discounts to be inputed in the price, so developers can’t book the sale at high prices and give a rebate any more. On the other hand, developers also don’t really want to undercut the market to avoid angering earlier buyers.

I think these observations really tie in with my previous expectations when the last cooling measure and the Population White Paper came out. Going forward, I believe that this trend will continue for quite a while. If I may, I guess predict that the breaking point will come when more and more people start to complain about their HDBs not rising in price. Watch out for that. The upturn will not be far off.

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