THE latest flash estimates from SRX Property shows that 468 non-landed private homes were transacted in the resale market in September, up 15.3 per cent from August, and up 13.3 per cent year on year.
This has led some market commentators to suggest that resale prices could be stabilising, though prices have yet to bottom out.
Moreover, the overall median transaction over X-value (TOX) - an indicator of how much buyers pay over past transacted prices of comparable units - was negative S$2,000 last month based on the September flash estimate; this was a marked improvement from negative S$10,000 in August, and the best showing since September 2013, when the TOX was positive S$3,000.
Among the districts with more than 10 resale transactions in September, District 15 (which includes locations such as Meyer Road and Katong) had the highest median TOX of S$65,000, followed by District 16 (S$18,000) and District 10 (S$10,000).
The lowest median TOX were in District 9 (negative S$37,000), District 11 (negative S$35,000) and District 12 (negative S$23,000).
However, SRX Property's September flash estimate for the non-landed private residential resale price index reflected a drop of 0.3 per cent month on month from August; year on year, the decrease was 4.6 per cent.
The subindex for Core Central Region (CCR) rose 0.9 per cent month on month in September, after climbing 4.2 per cent in August.
Prices in the city fringe or Rest of Central Region (RCR) appreciated 2.9 per cent in September, contrasting with a 1.8 per cent drop for August. In the suburbs or Outside Central Region (OCR), prices fell 2.1 per cent in September, after inching up 0.1 per cent in August.
Eugene Lim, the key executive officer at ERA, said: "Overall, property prices have not declined significantly year on year, despite loan curbs and cooling measures. The market is resilient, as sellers are not under pressure to cut prices. Interest rates are still low, while economic and employment numbers remain stable."
PropNex CEO Mohd Ismail predicts that transaction volumes may continue improving. "With signs of a stabilising market, more buyers who have stayed on the sidelines may return to make purchases, as falling prices may tempt them back into the market."
SRX also released flash estimates on leasing volumes and rental rates, showing that 3,171 non-landed private homes were rented in September. This is a decrease of 14 per cent from August but a rise of 8.7 per cent year on year.
However, the rental index for non-landed private homes dipped 0.2 per cent month on month in Septmber, going by the latest flash estimate. Year on year, the fall amounted to 5.3 per cent year on year.
Only CCR condos and private aparments bucked the trend, with a 0.3 per cent month-on-month rent rise.
A step-up in completion of new private homes competing with older units for a limited pool of tenants (arising from the curbs on foreign manpower) has made it a tenants' market.
ERA's Mr Lim said: "Rental transactions take longer to close and there is also significant downward pressure on achieved rents. We're expecting rents to soften by an overall 7-10 per cent for the whole year."
SLP International executive director Nicholas Mak attributes last month's pick-up in resale volumes to an expression of pent-up demand after a pullback in transactions through most of August, during the Month of the Hungry Ghosts; more buyers were also being drawn by price declines, and new launches spurring a revival in resale deals.
Mr Mak said that on the rental front, the many completions in OCR and RCR will put a downward pressure on rents. "Tenants will have lots of choices, so we will see a flight to quality. Hence, the OCR is likely to see the thinnest rental demand. There could be some investors of OCR properties who find that their rental income is insufficient to cover mortgage payments and they may decide to cut their losses and sell. This could increase resale transactions," he said.
On the other hand, if the government alleviates some of the cooling measures, demand could be boosted. In such a scenario, some owners, even though their rental income does not cover their mortgage payment, may decide to hold on to their units in the hope of selling at higher prices in the near future.
Mr Mak said: "So we have two opposing forces. If they happen at the same time, that is, government removes measures but rentals are falling, we may see resale transaction volume being fairly flat in 2015 compared to 2014."