Singapore private homes the most expensive to own and rent in Asia-Pacific: report

SINGAPORE’S private residential property is now the most expensive in the Asia-Pacific, overtaking Hong Kong in 2022, according to a report released by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) on Tuesday (May 30). 

ULI noted that the median price of Singapore’s private-sector homes now stands at US$1.2 million, compared with Hong Kong at US$1.16 million.

In the next-highest market, Sydney single-family homes were a median US$980,000.

Singapore’s median private home price rose about 8 per cent in 2022, while prices in Hong Kong fell almost 9 per cent in the year, the report found.

In general, homeownership in Singapore is high at 90 per cent and is accessible due to the large supply of public housing.

“In contrast, other gateway cities such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Seoul have relatively low homeownership rates, reflecting high home prices and the more migratory nature of the populations in gateway cities,” ULI said.

But the affordability ratio of Singapore private homes now stands at 13.7, placing them in the unaffordable range.

Homeownership is considered unaffordable when the ratio of the median home price to median annual household income exceeds five.

Across the cities tracked by ULI, median annual household income was highest in Singapore at US$87,900.

Shenzhen homes ranked least affordable with a ratio of about 35, while Hong Kong’s ratio fell to 26.5.

Data compiled by ULI also showed that the median price of a resale Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat rose 7.9 per cent from US$379,000 to US$409,000 or about S$554,000 in 2022.

With that, the affordability ratio of HDB resale flats has also crept up from 4.5 to 4.7. 

Still, including public housing, Singapore housing is ranked “most attainable” in ULI’s 2023 Asia Pacific Home Attainability Index, with the median price of HDB resale flats at 4.7 times the median annual income. 

“Meanwhile, home attainability is severely challenged in Tier 1 and leading Tier 2 cities in mainland China, Hong Kong, Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang with median home prices at approximately 20 to 35 times median household income,” the ULI said in a statement accompanying the report.

On a per square metre (psm) basis, Hong Kong is still the most costly private housing market in the region by far.

In 2022, the average psm price for a private home in Hong Kong was US$19,768, equivalent to US$1,836 psf or S$2,485 psf – more than twice the median figures for cities such as Singapore, Tokyo, Shenzhen, Beijing, and Shanghai. 

In rentals, Singapore’s private homes chalked up a median monthly rent of US$2,596, which is 53 per cent higher than Hong Kong’s median monthly rent of US$1,686 and overtaking other high cost-of-living cities such as Tokyo (US$602) and Seoul (US$689). 

This comes after private-sector home prices in Singapore went up by over 8.6 per cent and median monthly rent increased by 29.7 per cent in 2022. 

Factors such as construction delays, a sudden surge in the number of migrants and a relatively limited stock of institutionally or individually owned rental properties contributed to the rising market, said ULI.

The median monthly rent for private-sector homes in Singapore represents 35 per cent of the median household income. 

“However, as most renters of private-sector homes (in Singapore) have higher than median income, the monthly rent amount should be a significantly smaller percentage of the renter’s monthly income,” added the ULI.