Private housing in Singapore remains the most expensive in Asia-Pacific; Most affordable HDB flats: Report

SINGAPORE – Private residential housing in Singapore remains the most expensive in Asia-Pacific for the second year in a row, according to a report by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) released on 21 May.

ULI said Singapore’s median private housing price stood at US$1.3 million (S$1.7 million) in 2023, the most expensive of the 48 cities in 11 countries the report studied.

It was followed by Hong Kong, which recorded a median house price of $1.15 million. Homes in Sydney, the next highest market, had a median price of $1.06 million.

However, the report also ranked public housing in Singapore as the “most attainable” in terms of home ownership in 2023. It noted that the country has a home ownership rate of almost 90 per cent.

Homeownership is considered affordable when the ratio of median home price to median annual household income is less than 5.

The median price of Housing Board flats, which make up 90 per cent of the total housing stock in Singapore, has a ratio of 4.7, he said.

In 2023, private home prices in Singapore increased by 7 per cent despite property cooling measures implemented in April that year, when Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rates were increased and adjusted loan-to-value ratios, according to the report.

It noted that demand from foreigners fell significantly as the ABSD rate doubled from 30 percent to 60 percent, contributing to a 20 percent drop in total home sales.

However, in terms of price per square meter, Hong Kong was the most expensive private property market in the region, with an average price of $18,331 per square meter, or $1,703 per square foot.

This was followed by private homes in Singapore, which averaged $11,749 per m2, and Shenzhen, China, with an average of $10,142 per m2.

Homes in Shenzhen had the highest price-to-income ratio at 32.3, followed by Beijing at 28.7. There were around 25 for Metro Manila, Ho Chi Minh City and Hong Kong. In Singapore, the proportion of private households was 13.5.

Across all cities tracked by ULI, the median annual household income is highest in Singapore, at US$97,124. The average price of an HDB flat in 2023 was $461,289, compared to $409,000 in 2022.

Renting is generally “significantly more affordable” than buying a home in the region, according to the report.

For example, in Tokyo, where the price-to-income ratio for purchasing a home is 14.3, the median monthly rent is 20 percent of the median monthly household income. The proportion is less than 30 percent in mainland Chinese cities such as Chongqing and Tianjin.

By comparison, in Singapore it is 36 per cent.