Home » Blog » Singapore Ranks as Most Expensive City in Asia To Buy or Rent, as Home Prices in Hong Kong Return to 2017 Levels
Economy Featured Global Economy Global News News Politics

Singapore Ranks as Most Expensive City in Asia To Buy or Rent, as Home Prices in Hong Kong Return to 2017 Levels

The median price of a private home in Singapore was US$1.2 million in 2022, the highest among cities in the Asia-Pacific, according to a report published on Tuesday.

In the latest Home Attainability Index by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Asia Pacific Centre for Housing, Singapore also ranked as the region’s most expensive place to rent a private home.

The ULI Asia Pacific Centre for Housing bills itself as a think tank that aims to advance best practices in residential development and address housing issues relevant to the region.

In terms of affordability, the median private home price in Singapore was 13.7 times the median household income; the figure for median public Housing Board flats stood at 4.7. On the latter measure, Singapore ranks as the second-most affordable city in the Asia-Pacific, after Brisbane, with a ratio of 4.5.

The report gives a snapshot of the extent to which housing is attainable in 45 cities in nine countries in the Asia Pacific: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Vietnam.

In the past year, Singapore’s median private-sector home price increased more than 8 per cent, while Hong Kong’s median home price fell 8.7 per cent, the report said.

It cited a few factors that led to the price increases in Singapore, including a large influx of immigrants and a growing trend of young professionals moving out of family homes for more space and freedom.

There was also a reduced new supply of housing in the past few years due to a Covid-induced disruption to the supply chain of building materials and labour.

The Singapore government has tried to address the issue of rising prices with a series of property cooling measures. The latest set, introduced in April, included measures such as the doubling of buyer’s tax for foreigners to 60 per cent.

In contrast, home prices in Hong Kong fell substantially, returning to 2017 prices. This was mainly caused by a drop in population and rising mortgage interest rates, the report said.

The current median home price in Hong Kong is US$1.16 million, an 8.7 per cent fall from the preceding year.

However, Hong Kong led the way on a per square metre basis. The median home price per square metre in Hong Kong was US$19,768, almost twice that of Singapore’s US$10,715. By this measure, Singapore ranks third, after Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

Private homes also make up only about 20 per cent of Singapore’s housing stock, with the majority of homes being HDB flats.

In terms of home ownership, Singapore continues to have the highest rate of nearly 90 per cent across public and private housing. This is due to the government’s “consistent commitment to enable its citizens to own homes at reasonable prices from the early years of the country’s independence in the 1960s”, said the report.

The median HDB price went up from US$379,000 to US$409,000, an increase of 7.9 per cent, and the ratio of median HDB price to median annual income increased from 4.5 to 4.7, the second-lowest in the list.

For private homes in Singapore, the ratio jumped to 13.7.

Topping the list was Shenzhen (35.0), followed by Ho Chi Minh City (32.5). Hong Kong’s ratio was 26.5, a sharp drop from the previous year’s 30.5.