RESALE prices of non-landed private homes in Singapore inched up 0.2 per cent in August over the preceding month, according to SRX Property's flash estimate released on Tuesday.
SRX's revised index value for July reflects a 0.1 per cent increase, a smaller gain compared with the 0.3 per cent increase posted earlier, when the flash estimate for that month was released.
Compared with a year ago, SRX's overall resale price index for non-landed private homes fell 1.7 per cent in August. From the recent peak in January 2014, the index has lost 6.5 per cent.
A geographical breakdown of SRX's data showed that month on month, prices in the city fringe or Rest of Central Region (RCR) climbed 1.8 per cent last month. However, prices slipped 0.5 per cent in Core Central Region (CCR) and dipped 0.2 per cent in the suburbs or Outside Central Region (OCR). Year on year, prices in RCR are up 7.1 per cent, while prices in CCR and OCR have retreated by 6.2 per cent and 2.8 per cent respectively.
Commenting on the price outperformance posted by the RCR, R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng said: "RCR has developments in niche localities and rentals are considered more affordable by tenants, compared with CCR properties.
"Moreover, projects in RCR typically have no more than 250 units. Expats from Western countries favour such a quiet living environment - in contrast to suburban condo projects which typically have a lot more units."
According to SRX data, resale volume of non-landed private homes shrank 16.8 per cent to 466 units in August from 560 units in July. However, year on year, resale volume last month was up nearly 16 per cent.
Wong Xian Yang, senior manager, research and consultancy at OrangeTee.com, citing SRX data, said that year to date (January-August 2015) resale volumes of non-landed private homes are 34 per cent higher compared with the same period last year. "Buyers may have perceived increased value in the resale market, as prices are more negotiable compared with the primary market."
The rise in volumes comes despite falling rents and the ongoing high volume of private home completions; this suggests that many of the homes bought are for own occupation, Mr Wong reasoned.
SRX in its release said the overall median transaction over X-value (TOX) has remained zero for the past five months. The median TOX measures how much people are overpaying or underpaying against the computer-generated estimated value or the so-called X-value.
ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim said: "This shows that buyers and sellers have been rational in their behaviour and that units are changing hands around valuation."
Looking ahead, SLP International executive director Nicholas Mak commented: "The risk of regional economic slowdown and hikes in interest rates would adversely affect real estate demand and continue to exert downward pressure on residential property prices in the coming months, unless the government were to relax the cooling measures significantly."
Mr Ong of R'ST Research said the recent increase in household income ceilings for those buying new executive condominiums (ECs) - a public-private hybrid housing form - is expected to siphon off some buying interest from resale private condos, especially those in OCR. "However, some HDB flat dwellers may still wish to buy a private condo as they can continue to hold on to their HDB flat; on the other hand, if they were to buy a new EC unit, they would have to dispose of their HDB flat after the EC has been completed."