Property deals went into cold storage on the coldest Lunar New Year in 16 years.
Over the five-day long weekend, there were only a few transactions in the primary and secondary markets. There were no new deals at The Coronation in West Kowloon, where sales have been high, while one unit in Chatham Gate in Hung Hom was reserved.
In the past two months, 620 apartments have been sold at The Coronation and 80 were offloaded at Chatham Gate.
In the secondary market, only seven units changed hands at the 10 benchmark residential projects, according to Midland Realty. Deals were noted only in Mei Foo Sun Chuen in Lai Chi Kok and Kingswood Villa in Tin Shui Wai.
The number of secondary transactions is the second lowest in history. The lowest was four deals on Lunar New Year in 2010, also a cold and rainy day.
"A lot of potential buyers and homeowners are not in Hong Kong during the holiday," said Midland executive director Vincent Chan Kwan-hing. "On top of that, the cold and rain also kept interested buyers away from viewing flats."
Chan said sentiment will improve after the new year as it is traditionally the time when deals pick up.
In the meantime, real estate agents are feeling the chill in the market. Centaline Property said it handed out 1,700 warning letters to agents. This is unprecedented. Of these, 600 were to sales people. Some management grade people have also received warnings.
"These letters are only a reminder," said Centaline managing director for residential sales Louis Chan Wing-kit. "We do not have any plans to cut staff yet."
Another realtor, 18 Property, confirmed that it axed 30 staff, mostly from Kowloon.