5 Ways to Use the URA Property Price Index and Other Official Statistics

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Keeping up with real estate data can be very useful in helping you spot trends and grab hold of opportunities. Knowing the general trends in the property market can alert you moments to when you should shop around for deals or consider putting up a property for sale. Conversely, it can also alert you to moments when it would be better to hold off on buying and selling.

Thankfully, the internet is a goldmine of information for anyone who’s buying, selling or renting property. Aside from our quarterly Property Market Index and annual Property Market Outlook reports, official statistics and data released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) is another useful resource. In fact, the URA maintains a data calendar so you can monitor when certain figures (such as the URA Property Price Index) are released. 

Here are some key sets of URA data you can find online.

 

About URA Real Estate Statistics

As mentioned, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) releases real estate statistics for the private property market every quarter.

They maintain a Data Release Calendar which schedules the update of data for private and commercial residential properties. Here’s what to expect:

Private residential properties

Data

Publishing frequency

Flash estimate of quarterly price index for private residential property

Quarterly

Quarterly property market updates

Quarterly

Rental contracts of private residential properties

Monthly

Median rentals of private non-landed residential properties by street name

Quarterly

Private residential units launched and sold by developers

Monthly

Private residential projects in the pipeline

Quarterly

New private residential sale transactions

Weekly

Resale and sub-sale private residential transactions

Twice per week

Commercial properties

Data

Publishing frequency

Quarterly property market updates

every 4th Friday of January, April, July and October

Rentals of retail space by postal district, floor level and floor area

Rentals of office space by location, floor area and building class

Rentals of office and retail space by street name

Price and rental indices for office and retail space in the central region

Available, vacant space and vacant rate of office and retail space

Pipeline supply of office and retail space and hotel rooms

Listing of major commercial projects in the pipeline supply

Commercial projects completed in the quarter

Commercial property transactions with caveats lodged

Twice a week on Tuesday and Friday

 

URA Real Estate Statistics: 5 Key Areas to Zoom In On

URA publishes quite a bit of real estate-related data, and it is easy to get lost if you don’t know what you should look out for. For those who are thinking of buying or selling a private home, here are some useful real estate statistics released by URA every quarter. You can find them under the title “Quarterly Property Market Updates”.

Here’s an example of Q3 2020’s data report.

 

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Credit: URA

 

For this article, we will be using Q3 2020’s report as an example as it is the latest at the time of writing. 

Property prices and rentals

Buying or renting private residential property? Then you’ll want to follow the rental and price indices published by URA. These indices compare the current quarter’s prices and rents with previous quarters’ and indicate by what percentage they have risen or fallen.

 

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The URA Property Price Index chart, as of Q3 2020. Credit: URA

 

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The URA Rental Index chart, as of Q3 2020. Credit: URA

 

Looking at quarterly index movements in graph form over a number of years can give you a better idea of how property prices and rents have been changing over time. This is particularly useful for property investors who are trying to identify an opportune time to buy or sell.

Launches and take-up rates

The launch and take-up rate reflect the demand and supply of property. In particular, look out for gaps between the launch and take-up rate to identify opportunities.

 

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The URA launches and take-up rate chart, as of Q3 2020. Credit: URA

 

For instance, a high launch and low take-up rate can indicate that there is an oversupply of property in the market, which is favourable for buyers looking for a bargain. On the other hand, a low launch and high take-up rate indicate high demand relative to supply, and can be favourable for those who are looking to sell property at a good price. 

Sales and sub-sales

URA tracks the number of new, resale and sub-sale transactions every quarter. It’s useful to know the difference between the three. 

New sales are typically developer sales, which represent the new launch condos sold by developers. For example, a property seeker – let’s call him John – visited a showflat for a new project and decided to buy a unit. That is considered a new sale. 

Like new sales, sub-sale transactions tend to involve uncompleted property. A sub-sale is when a property is bought from a developer and then sold from the first buyer to another buyer before the project has been completed. 

For example, after John buys a new launch condo from the developer, there was a change in his plans. As such, he decided to sell his unit to another buyer, even though the project has not been completed and he has not even lived in the new home. The transaction between John and this new buyer is a sub-sale. 

Lastly, resale transactions are the sales of an existing, usually completed, property from an existing owner to another person. 

For example, when John decided to buy his new condo, he also needed to sell his existing home to free up cash to afford the new property. The sale of his existing home is a resale transaction. 

These three add up to the total volume of sales, which can be valuable information as it indicates availability and/or demand of property on the market. The quarterly report typically shares a chart on the resale and sub-sale figures:

 

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The URA resale and sub-sale transaction chart, as of Q3 2020. Credit: URA

 

A high proportion of sales being sub-sales can indicate certain trends, such as a financial crisis which forces people to sell their properties in a sub-sale, or conversely a property boom that encourages people to sell at a profit before the property is completed.

Supply in the pipeline

URA also publishes figures on the housing supply in the pipeline. This figure indicates uncompleted private residential units. URA also indicates how many of them are still unsold.

 

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The URA unsold units chart, as of Q3 2020. Credit: URA

 

Checking this figure can help you to avoid selling your property in periods when developers are releasing large numbers of units.

Stock and vacancy

This figure measures the occupancy rate of private residential units, and is of interest if you are a property owner looking to rent out property or a renter looking to negotiate a new lease or renegotiate an existing one.

 

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The URA stock and vacancy chart, as of Q3 2020. Credit: URA

 

A big difference between stock and vacancy indicates that landlords are struggling to find renters, and typically puts downward pressure on rents.

 

Complement URA’s data with PropertyGuru’s Market Index reports

For those looking for more data on which to base real estate decisions, PropertyGuru publishes a quarterly Property Market Index report containing insightful analysis of data collected internally.

PropertyGuru’s report can be a great complement to URA data—the latter measures actual transactions, while PropertyGuru’s data comes from asking prices and listings on the PropertyGuru website, which is one of Singapore’s most widely used real estate portals.

Using data from both URA and PropertyGuru, you can get a more complete snapshot of the market each quarter and make smarter and more informed decisions.

Here’s a list of the property reports for 2020:

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