15 Holland Hill

Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, Singapore purchasers have been looking for bigger houses, enabling them to set up specialized workplaces or temporary offices apart from their personal areas.

In fact, according to Christine Sun, Senior Vice President of Research and Analytics at OrangeTee & Tie, sales of big houses are currently at a 10-year high.

According to URA Realis statistics, sales of big condos with at least 1,200 square feet increased by 205.5 percent to 4,335 units (including subsales) in the first half of 2021, up from 1,419 units the previous year.

The number exceeded the 2,056 units moved in the same time of 2019 previous to the pandemic, as well as the 3,786 units moved in the same period of 2018 before to the implementation of cooling measures.

Across all market sectors, there was an increase in demand for larger units.

Within the Outside Central Region (OCR), sales of big condominium units of at least 1,200 sq ft increased by more than fourfold from 211 units in Q2 2020 to 1,007 units this year. In the same period, sales in the Rest of Central Region (RCR) increased by five times to 650 units, while sales in the Core Central Region (CCR) increased by almost six times to 616 units.

In comparison, sales of smaller units rose somewhat during the same time period. Smaller unit sales increased 2.4 times to 2,149 units, according to the OCR. Similar sales in the RCR increased by 2.4 times to 1,658 units, while in the CCR they increased by almost 3.5 times to 1,039 units.

The greatest price increases were seen in large condos, with some purchasers taking advantage of the chance to acquire bigger units in anticipation of future price increases.

From H1 2014 to H1 2021, the median price of large resale condos above 1,200 sq ft rose between 14.9 percent and 21.2 percent, in striking contrast to smaller units under 800 sq ft, which declined from 2 percent to 9.2 percent.

As a result, more purchasers are searching for houses in the suburbs, where bigger resale properties may be more affordable.

In the first half of 2021, nearly half of all non-landed resale transactions were in the OCR, up from 45.9% in 2019 and 41.7 percent in 2017.

During that time, the suburbs accounted for more than half of the top ten resale condominium hotspots, with District 19 (Hougang, Punggol, Serangoon Gardens) leading the list.

District 23 (Hillview, Dairy Farm, Bukit Panjang, Choa Chu Kang) was fourth, with District 18 (Tampines, Pasir Ris) coming in fifth. District 14 (Geylang, Eunos) was ranked seventh, while District 16 (Bedok, Upper East Coast, Eastwood, Kew Drive) was ranked eighth.

“These rankings were a far cry from seven years ago, when excellent sites like Districts 9, 10, and 11 were in the top 10, with District 10 in first position and District 9 in third,” Sun said.

“As workers negotiate hybrid working arrangements, this substantial change in demand for resale houses from excellent sites to suburban and city periphery regions will certainly come into greater focus.”

People may no longer mind “staying farther away from the city center” where their workplaces are situated, according to her.

“After the Government intends to convert certain non-matures estates and make them more liveable, neighborhood amenities and satellite offices in the suburban regions may suffice,” she said, adding that this may also explain why more purchasers are prepared to pay more for houses in Pasir Ris or Punggol.

With Singapore charting a course for working and living with COVID-19 in an endemic state, Sun believes that the trend toward larger, suburban homes reflects Singaporeans’ hopes that some kind of distant employment would persist for many.

“For individuals in areas like banking, finance, accounting, or information and technology where technological progress has facilitated the transition with little disruption,” she added, “it may even become a longer-term norm.”

“This group of skilled employees with greater job security and buying power may continue to drive demand and prices, ensuring the health of Singapore’s residential property market.”