The market is rife with speculations on whether private residential prices are bottoming out, and there are positive signs that are fanning hopes. Developers sold 7,551 condominiums and apartments this year, more than last year’s figure of 6,895 units, based on caveats lodged up to early-December. Including landed homes and executive condominiums (ECs), primary sales were up 15% y-o-y from 9,957 to 11,430.

Resale volume has also picked up, led by Core Central Region, also known as the highend market. The number of resale caveats lodged on condominiums and apartments in the CCR rose 17% y-o-y from 1,094 to 1,285, excluding units sold by developers in major delicensed projects such as Ardmore Three, d’Leedon and OUE Twin Peaks, which are also classified as resale transactions by the URA.

Resale transactions edged up 9% in Rest of Central Region and 6% in Outside Central Region. As a result, resale prices of condominiums and apartments have also held firm (see chart).

Notwithstanding this, sluggish employment and economic data means the market is likely to be heading for an L-shaped recovery in 2017. A total of 13,730 workers were laid off in the first nine months of 2016, the highest figure since 2009, according to the Ministry of Manpower this month. At the same time, total employment contracted in 3Q, the first decline since 1Q2015, following slower growths in the preceding two quarters.

Meanwhile, economists polled by the Monetary Authority of Singapore have trimmed their 2017 economic growth forecast, producing a median of 1.5% in the December survey, down from 2.1% and 1.8% in the June and September surveys respectively.

On a slightly brighter note, the unemployment rate has stayed flattish for Singaporeans and residents. And the International Monetary Fund projected a slight improvement in the global economy next year, which is good news for Singapore’s open economy.