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RENTS for non-landed private homes ticked up 1.1 per cent in February from January, the second month-on-month increase after a downtrend.
The rent uptick for condominiums and private apartments was seen across all three regional classifications, that is, core central, outside central and suburban, according to flash estimates released by SRX Property on Wednesday.
R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng said the improvement was due to expatriates coming to Singapore in the first half of the year. Some of them might be less aggressive in negotiating down rents due to their unfamiliarity with Singapore's housing options, he said.
Rents could dip or stagnate in the second half of the year as fewer expats arrive, he said.
Higher condo rents came even as leasing volumes were relatively flat in recent months. An estimated 3,757 non-landed homes were rented out in February, slightly below the 3,796 units a month earlier.
Meanwhile, the rental market for Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats continued to be soft. Rents slid 0.8 per cent in February compared with January.
Leasing volumes improved slightly to an estimated 1,477 units in February compared to 1,459 units in January, but there was no discernible change to the downtrend of the past 12 months.
Rents have been under pressure from oversupply, rising vacancy rates and weak demand.
SRX said non-landed private home rents are down 3.8 per cent compared to a year ago, and down 18.1 per cent compared to their peak in January 2013.
HDB rents are down 4.8 per cent compared to a year ago, and down 13.4 per cent from their peak in August 2013. Median rents for entire flats are S$2,000 a month.
Looking ahead, Mr Ong said HDB rents could soften further as more flat owners move into completed suburban condos and sublet their flats.
For the private market, the silver lining is that rents are more attractive and affordable now. "There will be tenants who will be more keen to rent spaces larger or slightly more extravagant compared to their needs," he said.
SRX is an information exchange formed by real estate agencies in Singapore. It is managed by StreetSine Technology Group, a subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings.
The Business Times