Thanks to technology and prolonged cooling measures, 83 property agencies have closed shop while 865 property agents have exited the market this year, according to the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA).
Call it the Singapore real estate disruption.
The Lion City’s property market is now undergoing a major reboot as the tech crunch takes its bite. This, together with the slew of cooling measures implemented since 2009, have greatly disrupted the livelihood of property agents which was once considered a lucrative career.
Indeed, online property portals are now changing the way real estate transactions take place by connecting buyers and sellers directly.
As the tech crunch and the property cooling measures take their toll, many traditional brick-and-mortar agencies have been forced to roll down their shutters or consolidate because agents are exiting by the numbers.
According to data from the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), as at 1 January 2017, there were 1,286 licensed property agencies and 28,397 registered property agents compared to 1,369 and 29,262 respectively as at 1 January 2016.
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This represents some 6 per cent and 2.95 per cent drop in the number of agencies and agents respectively
“The reduction in the number of registered agents could point to a slight consolidation of the industry given the current property market sentiments. CEA also recognises that the real estate agency landscape is evolving. For example, with technological innovations, consumers’ lifestyles and preferences in handling their property transactions are changing, and this could shift demand for real estate agency services,” said Heng Whoo Kiat, Director, Policy & Licensing, CEA said.
To achieve economies of scale, some agencies are merging.
In June this year, for instance, Dennis Wee Group (DWG) and PropNex Realty merged to become the largest real estate agency in Singapore with 6,926 agents.
Meanwhile, HDB buyers and sellers can now deal with each other directly via Ohmyhome, a property portal that specialises in the HDB market.
This greatly reduces the need for real estate agents and cuts out their expensive commissions. A TALE OF TWO SISTERS
In September 2016, two sisters, Rhonda and Race Wong launched Ohmyhome which has revolutionised property transactions in the HDB market.
A CEA licensed real estate agency, Ohmyhome is a real estate platform where HDB flat owners and searchers are connected directly to each other for free.
All listings are genuine, non-duplicates and are easy to browse.
Users can ask for free-of-charge assistance over the Ohmyhome hotline anytime.
For users who prefer a human touch, affordable additional agent and documentation services are available for a flat fee, regardless of HDB size or price.
In June this year, they updated the platform with new features to make it even easier for users to buy, sell or rent their HDB flats.
This, it said, will bring Ohmyhome “a step closer to its vision of becoming an application for all housing matters.”
“This is the very first update since our official launch and it is a culmination of months of hard work. We have managed to further refine our platform based on consolidated user feedback. By adding ‘Journey’ and other new features to the app, we want to make it even more userfriendly for our fellow Singaporeans. This is also our first step in building an integrated Ohmyhome platform that is a one-stop shop for all housing-related matters. Everyone wants to live in their ideal home, and we are motivated to play a role to fulfil these dreams,” said Rhonda Wong, cofounder and CEO of Ohmyhome. ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY ?
Singapore’s property market is showing signs of recovery this year with more units sold in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the previous quarter.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) data showed that developers sold 2,962 private residential units in the first quarter compared with the 2,316 units sold in the previous quarter.
Market watchers agree.
“We have seen an increase in buying activities in the first two quarters of 2017. As land prices and land bids continue to escalate upwards, buyers that have been sitting on the fence are now ready to accept the new price points and make their purchase. The prime district of Singapore also saw renewed interest as big ticket properties are also starting to move. We are pleased to have sold over 90% of The Peak @ Cairnhill II within the first quarter this year,” said a spokesperson from TG Development.
However, there were fewer number of units launched in the primary market in the first quarter compared to the 2,944 units in the previous quarter.
Overall, the private residential property price index has continued its downward trend decreasing by 0.4 per cent compared with the 0.5 per cent decline in the previous quarter.
Meanwhile, prices have been declining steadily since its peak at 216.3 points recorded in the third quarter of 2013 to 136.7 points recorded in the first quarter of 2017. This represents a drop of 79.6 points.