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Expats facing the squeeze on rents

Karen Ha

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hong Kong remains the most expensive city for expatriates to rent high-end residential properties, according to a study by a human resources consultancy.

Demand for rented accommodation is being driven by the increase in expatriates posted to the SAR over the past two years, the study by ECA International finds.

Hong Kong is more expensive than New York and London.

"This comes at a time when a significant proportion of the local population, unable to buy property due to steep increases in property prices, is looking to rent instead," said Lee Quane, regional director for Asia at ECA International.

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"This has put renewed pressure on the already limited supply of rental property here, resulting in large rent increases."

The compilers of the study collected data in September and tallied rents from 130 cities around the world.

Rent for an unfurnished three- bedroom apartment in Hong Kong, it is claimed, averaged US$11,813 per month (HK$91,606), which was up 15 percent from 12 months earlier.

Expatriates usually look for homes in Mid-Levels, Repulse Bay and Happy Valley.

In high-end districts such as The Peak, the average rent for a three-bedroom apartment was US$19,900 per month.

In contrast, rents in Tokyo - which follows Hong Kong - average US$9,450 a month.

Singapore ranks third in Asia and ninth worldwide - the same as last year.

As for the mainland, Shanghai continued to rank sixth in Asia and 18th globally while Beijing slid to 26th from 24th globally though keeping its eighth place in Asia.

"Continuing increases in international assignments into China are creating an ongoing demand for rental property," Quane said. "With house prices continuing to fall there, many would-be buyers are looking to rent until the housing market bottoms out.

"These factors, along with municipal measures and tougher lending criteria, have driven an increase in demand for rental accommodation."

Globally, rent for a three-bedroom apartment rose to US$3,080 from US$2,750 on average.


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