URA improves property price index (PPI) to better reflect price changes in private residential market

Data don’t lie but how it is sliced can lead to different pictures. Therefore in a bid to improve the methodology, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) released the flash estimate of the private residential property price index (PPI) for 1st Quarter 2015.

The rationale for the revision is because there is greater variation in the housing size and age profile of the private housing developments. With this in mind, URA has decided to switch to a regression method and used the period of 1Q2009 as baseline reference.

Flash estimate of 1st Quarter 2015 PPI

Using the revised methodology for the PPI, the overall private residential property index fell by 1.1%. This is the sixth continuous quarter of price decrease. This moderate decline is within my expectation and in my view, the slide is expected to continue unless the government lift some of the restrictive cooling measures.

Prices of non-landed private residential properties declined in all market segments, as they did in the previous quarter. Price fell 0.6% in Core Central Region (CCR), 1.8% in Rest of Central Region (RCR), and 0.9% in Outside Central Region (OCR). Prices of landed properties fell 1.1%.

The Terrace

The flash estimates are compiled based on transaction prices given in contracts submitted for stamp duty payment, caveats lodged and survey data on new units sold by developers during the first ten weeks of the quarter. The statistics will be updated 4 weeks later when URA releases the full real estate statistics for 1st Quarter 2015, which captures more data from the caveats lodged, stamp duty records and the take-up of new projects.

Past data have shown that the difference between the quarterly price changes indicated by the flash estimate and the actual price changes could be significant when the change is small. The public is advised to interpret the flash estimates with caution.

To see the graphical trend, please refer to here.

When will the correction occur?

Since the implementation of total debt servicing ration (TDSR), many people has been predicting a major correction of up to 20% for the private property market.  However, this scenario has not materialized. In my opinion, the correction will only arrive when there is a financial crisis. As I have reiterated many times in my blog, government policies can only be effective up to a certain point. The most effective means to bring down the feverish investment property market is through a financial crisis.

Perhaps a spike in the bank interest rates could help to accelerate the correction? Only time will tell but I foresee that the current stand-off between buyers and developers will not be for too long.

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