RESALE homes in Singapore changed hands at higher prices last month, as buyers returned to the property market after being spooked by cooling measures earlier this year.
Prices of resale homes rose 1.9 per cent last month over March, picking up speed from March's 1.1 per cent increase over February, according to the latest Singapore Residential Price Index (SRPI) released yesterday.
Suburban and smaller homes enjoyed the steepest price gains, while homes in the central area - Districts 1 to 4 and 9 to 11 - continued to rise in price but at a slower pace, the index showed.
Property consultants said the gains may indicate that the impact of January's curbs on home purchases is tapering off.
Describing the overall price hike last month as "quite substantial", R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng said buying interest for resale properties "might be recovering" from the hit it took after the cooling measures.
Buyers looking for a second or subsequent property - which is subject to an additional stamp duty tax under January's curbs - are likely to opt for a resale property rather than buying a new unit directly from a developer, he added.
"A resale property is generally a lower-cost alternative, which will mean a lower additional stamp duty, and yet it can bring immediate rental income," he said. The additional stamp duty is a percentage of the home's price.
The National University of Singapore (NUS), which compiles the SRPI based on a basket of completed non-landed homes, said yesterday that January's cooling measures "apparently had only a temporary effect" on home prices.
Although the number and prices of homes sold fell in February after the curbs kicked in, they have recovered since then, supported by continued demand for suburban homes, NUS said. It added that prices have become more volatile after the latest measures, the seventh round since 2009.
"It is unclear that the seventh instalment of the cooling measures, described as the most comprehensive to date, has had the desired impacts of mitigating house price inflation," it said.
The SRPI showed that properties outside the central region led the gains last month. Prices jumped 2.4 per cent last month from March, reversing the 0.2 per cent fall in the previous month.
Small units of 506 sq ft or less also climbed in price at a faster rate: 1.8 per cent last month, up from 0.8 per cent in March.
The prices of centrally located homes rose less quickly last month. They went up 1.3 per cent, compared to a 2.8 per cent increase in March.