House Hunting During A Pandemic
Home & Decor Singapore|January 2022
The property show must go on, pandemic or not. However, it has undoubtedly changed consumers’ buying and selling habits.

Singapore’s property market is booming. Ask any realtor who uses TikTok or YouTube to post creative house tours and ads. “Singapore’s resilient real estate market is acing the pandemic test,” said the South China Morning Post last September. “Singapore’s Home Sales Remain Resilient Despite Covid Flare-up”, screamed a Bloomberg article headline in October. Financial Times, posted this cheery headline in September: “Overseas buyers return to Singapore’s property market”.

The Straits Times reported 20 HDB units sold for more than $1 million in October, with a five-room Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flat at Bishan’s Natura Loft topping the charts at $1.26 million. The total value of Good Class Bungalows sales are heading to a 10-year high as well, with 68 sales worth $2.05 billion transacted in the first eight months of 2021.

What is it like buying and selling during a pandemic? Here are some of the things we learned from real estate agents and buyers and sellers.

PREFERENCE FOR RESALE OVER BTO FLATS

Construction was hit hard by Covid-19 as building materials took longer to arrive, migrant workers living in dorms fell sick and strict Safe Management Measures slowed construction.

Last August, HDB announced that its main contractor, Greatearth Corporation and Greatearth Construction, had run into financial difficulties, halting work on five Build-To-Order (BTO) projects. Sky Vista at Bukit Batok, Senja Heights and Senja Ridges in Bukit Panjang, Marsiling Grove in Woodlands, and West Coast Parkview in Clementi (a Selective En bloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) replacement site) were affected.

One couple has ditched the BTO route and is shopping for a resale flat. According to Daniel Wong, a director at PropNex Realty, “BTO flat buyers affected by construction delays on Covid-19 might be able to cancel their bookings without incurring penalties.”.

Many buyers are turning to resale flats due to urgent housing needs. As a result, the housing market has become a seller’s market. Homeowners can sell their property faster and for more money.

HDB resale prices rose by 0.9 per cent from September to October 2021, making it the 16th straight month of gains across all flat types and in mature and non-mature estates. The HDB upgraders are taking advantage of this opportunity to cash out at a reasonable price.

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