In many narrations, the overall price trend in the Singapore property market is shared and analysed and, till date, I have not come across studies on how each district in Singapore performed in the ups and downs periods of Singapore property market. In this study, we will dissect the Singapore property market into its various districts and see if we can uncover any interesting findings that could help us make a property investment decision in the future.

Tip: If you would like to refresh your knowledge of Singapore’s District, please refer to our property guide ‘Singapore Districts and Regions’.

Here are some questions or myths I hope we can answer or debunked:

  • During an uptrend, is all districts benefiting from the growth? Likewise, during a downtrend, is there any districts which are more resilient than others?
  • Is it true that district 9, 10 & 11, which are hotbeds for foreign investment the district that experience the most massive swing in prices, i.e., you can earn the most during good times?
  • How do major URA developments near or within a district affect the prices?
  • What is the district(s) that overperform or underperform during the uptrend and downtrend phase of the Singapore property market?

Before we begin, I would like you to note that, for this study, we are looking at the district level, there are bound to be individual projects that perform better than others in a specific district. Likewise, some projects perform worse than others in a specific district. I have derived my observations based on my interpretations of the public data by URA and should not be liable for your investment decision based on my study. As such, I have also attached the raw data which you can perform your analysis — lastly, the study focus on Private, Non-Landed Private Condominium, excluding Executive Condominium.

[Click here to download the raw data]

Having set the ground rules, let’s us begin.

Singapore Property Market Period

 

Singapore Property Market Cycle

For this study, we will analyse the Singapore Property Market since 1996 (this is the earliest available electronic data I have access to too) until today. Since 1996, based on the average price per square foot, I have identified a total of eight uptrends and downtrends as on the Singapore Property Market cycle chart above and the breakdown of the periods are as following:

  • Period 1: Downtrend – 1996Q3 to 1998Q4
  • Period 2: Uptrend – 1998Q4 to 1999Q4
  • Period 3: Downtrend – 1999Q4 to 2003Q4
  • Period 4: Uptrend – 2003Q4 to 2007Q3
  • Period 5: Downtrend – 2007Q3 to 2009Q1
  • Period 6: Uptrend – 2009Q1 to 2014Q4
  • Period 7: Downtrend – 2014Q4 to 2015Q3
  • Period 8: Uptrend – 2015Q3 to 2019Q4

And here’s how much price has gained or fallen for each district during each property period:

Period 1: Downtrend – 1996Q3 to 1998Q4

Singapore Property Downtrend during the Asian Financial Crisis

 Period 2: Uptrend – 1998Q4 to 1999Q4

Property right before Dot Com bubble burst

Period 3: Downtrend – 1999Q4 to 2003Q4

Singapore Property Market Dot.com bubble burst

Period 4: Uptrend – 2003Q4 to 2007Q3

Singapore property market after dot.com bubble burst

Period 5: Downtrend – 2007Q3 to 2009Q1

Singapore property after subprime mortgage crisis

Period 6: Uptrend – 2009Q1 to 2014Q4

Singapore Property Price after Subprime crisis

Period 7: Downtrend – 2014Q4 to 2015Q3

Singapore property market after cooling measures

Period 8: Uptrend – 2015Q3 to 2019Q4

Singapore Property Price after cooling measures have set in.

During an uptrend, is all districts benefiting from the growth? Likewise, during a Downtrend, is there any districts which are more resilient than others?

During a growth period, most districts experienced positive growth, except the recent uptrend between 2015Q3 and 2019Q4. For this period, district 16, 22, 27 & 25 experienced a downtrend in their prices. District 22, which is Jurong & Boon Lay, came as a surprise given the hype-up of Jurong Business District, Singapore’s 2nd CBD. It appears the hype-up effect has worn off after 2014, after its spectacular growth of around 100% between 2009Q1 and 2014Q4. However, is it important not to put District 22 on the backburner as the significant development in Jurong is one of the critical focus of Singapore, and it may come a time when District 22 will shine again? It may be even a good time to monitor District 22 as its prices have come off in recent years.

As for the Downtrend, three out of four Downtrends have districts which bulked the downward trend:

Period “Surviving” Districts and their % gain.
1999Q4 to 2003Q4 D2 (30.4%), D7 (18.9%), D8 (18.2%) & D9 (1.1%)
2007Q3 to 2009Q1 D18 (11.8%), D25 (9.7%), D3 (4.6%) & D22 (1.0%)
2014Q4 to 2015Q3 D27 (21.8%), D20 (13.7%), D25 (12.4%), D26 (6.36%), D17 (4.25%), D23 (1.6%), D19 (1.0%) & D21 (0.4%)

Interestingly, all “surviving” districts only survive once in the three Downtrends, leaving only D25 to “survive” two Downtrends. However, D25 performed the worst for the uptrend between 2015Q3 and 2019Q4 due to the shortage of new developments in D25.

Another noteworthy point to note is that, in the recent Downtrend period (2014Q4 to 2015Q3), districts belonging to the outside of central region makes up the majority of the “surviving” districts by 7 out of 8 of the surviving districts.

A learning lesson for this point is that, during a downturn, there is still an opportunity to invest in districts that may buck the trend.

Is it true that district 9, 10 & 11, which are hotbeds for foreign investment the district that experience the most massive swing in prices, i.e., you can earn the most during good times?

My impression has always been that district 9, 10 & 11 would experience the most massive swing in prices, but from the data, it shows that I am wrong. During the growth periods, district 9 & 10, has managed to get into Top 5 top gainers for the period 2003Q4 to 2007Q3. However, when it comes to Downtrend, they performed slightly worse. District 10 got into Top 5 losers for two Downtrends, 1996Q3 to 1998Q4 and 2007Q3 to 2009Q1. And district 9 performed the worst between 2007Q3 and 2009Q1 with a drop in average PSF of around 46%.

So which district experience the most significant mood swing?

From my analysis, it is district 2. It is the top 5 gainers for all the uptrends and three times top 5 losers for all the Downtrends. It experienced the most significant drop of -58.3 for the period of 1996Q3 to 1998Q4. And it experienced the whopping massive gain of 553% for the period between 2003Q4 and 2007Q3.

How do major URA developments near or within a district affect the prices?

For simplicity, we will examine the immediate districts undergoing significant URA developments; you may refer to my “Summary of Major Urban Transformations in Singapore” to recap the upcoming URA redevelopment plans in Singapore.

The most significant transformation is in Jurong, which belongs to District 22, was first unveiled in 2008. In the Downtrend experienced between 2007Q3 and 2009Q1, D22 was one of the “surviving” districts. And the relatively neglected D22 experienced a one-off 100% increased in average PSF between the period 2009Q1 and 2014Q4. However, after peaking in 2014Q4, the average PSF has been on the downward trend.

In 2013, URA unveiled the woodlands regional centre and D25 survive the Downtrend between 2014Q4 and 2015Q3. It clocked in an impressive gain of 12.44% where more than 60% of the districts are in the red. Like D22, the positive effect of the announcement of major urban transformation in Singapore worn off and it is in the red during an uptrend, its average PSF fell by 6.33%.

In 2013, URA also unveiled the plans to shift away Paya Lebar airbase to make way for more housing; this caused a jump of the price between 2013Q2 and 2013Q3, which, in a small way, helped D14 secured the top 3 gainer spot for the uptrend period between 2009Q1 and 2014Q4. Again, the announcement effects wore off in the next period between 2014Q4 and 2015Q3.

As for the rest of the major urban transformation announced in 2018, they appeared to have not much of an influence in the short-term price trend of the respective districts.

My take, which I may be wrong, is that the announcement caused a hype up effect on the particular district which has plans to undergo major urban transformation. However, the benefits of the urban transformation are not immediate; it takes time for the urban transformation to develop, easily over ten years. So, it is wise not to jump blindly into a particular district upon the announcement of an urban transformation plan. You have to do your own due diligence to assess if the entry price is right at the given time before committing.

What is the district(s) that overperform or underperform during the uptrend and downtrend phase of the Singapore property market?

Two districts stood out during the uptrend and downtrend of the Singapore property market.

District 2 is the “winner” for having been in the Top 5 Performing Districts five out of eight periods of uptrend and downtrend.

For the “loser”, it goes to District 4; it is in the Top 5 Worst Performing Districts five out of eight periods of uptrend and downtrend.

However, District 2 and District 4 are not the Top 5 Performing Districts and Top 5 Worst Performing Districts in the past five and past ten years time frame.

A bonus for you, here are the Top 5 Performing Districts and Top 5 Worst Performing Districts in the past five and past ten years’ time frame.

Category 2010Q1 to 2020Q1 2015Q1 to 2020Q1
Top 5 Performing District 28 7
14 21
20 20
13 18
18 26
Top 5 Worst Performing District 4 25
1 22
9 16
27 27
11 1

From the Top 5 Performing Districts and Top 5 Worst Performing Districts, having performed in each of the uptrend and downtrend does not correlate to its performance in the past 5 or 10 years’ time frame.

From the above Top 5 Performing Districts in the past five and past ten years, district 20 and 18 appears to be the “hidden” gems of the Singapore property market, there are not much hype around them. Still, they have consistently remained in the Top 5 performing districts in the past five and past ten years. District 18 has even crept up in ranking in the past five years.

[Bonus: Are you looking for an investment-worthy project in D18? Click here to find out this treasure at D18, it has been a top-selling project for consecutive months] 

Likewise, for the Top 5 worst performing districts, district 27 and District 1 remained for the past five and past ten years. However, district 1 appears to be improving as it is “dropping off” the chart of the Top 5 worst-performing districts in the past five years. Perhaps, it is time to check out District 1 again.

Conclusion

In times of up and down, there are bound to be districts that buck the trend. In other words, it is not all doom and gloom during a downtrend; likewise, it is not always sunny and rosy during an uptrend. There is always an opportunity in the crisis. Also, do not jump into an investment just because our government has announced a major redevelopment plan, an urban redevelopment takes time, and the benefits of the redevelopments needs time to be passed onto the district. Same goes to some “neglected” districts; they may be quietly building wealth for its owner. You can also use my 6 project analytical methods to evaluate if your shortlisted project is a good buy

Once again, I do hope this article open up a new perspective for you and help you make a better investment decision in the future. If there are any questions for me, feel free to PM me or leave your comments in the comment field below. And yes, do help to share this article to whom you think it will benefit.

Edwin Goh

Branch District Director, ERA

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In my seven years of real estate career, I have seen many property owners losing their money or have their money stuck in their property investment. Mostly because of bad decisions made based on lack of information, bad advice and unchecked emotions. I would love to meet up with every one of you and help you in your real estate journey, but this may not be possible. So, I have started this blog to share my insights and hopes they will help you make a better decision.

If you are ready to begin your rewarding real estate investment journey with me, Whatsapp me today at +65 9004 5827, till we meet, good luck in your real estate investment journey.

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