Low point in flat-buying confidence

Top News | Amy Nip 9 Jan 2018

Hongkongers' confidence in buying flats has dropped to its lowest since a survey was started in 2009.

Five universities in Hong Kong, the mainland, Macau and Taiwan conducted a joint survey on consumer confidence. City University, responsible for the Hong Kong portion of the survey, interviewed 1,005 people from December 12 to January 3.

The latest survey for the fourth quarter of last year showed Hong Kong's overall consumer confidence to be at 86.8 - on a scale of 0 to 200 - a drop of three points from the quarter before and the lowest of all four regions.

Confidence over buying flats dropped 16 percent to 36.8 - the lowest since the survey started in 2009. Any score below 100 indicates a lack of confidence.

Geoffrey Tso Kwok-fai, associate professor of the university's department of management sciences, said the continuing climb of property prices has weakened confidence. "Property prices keep going up, and no big adjustment is expected in predictions for the coming year," he said.

Home prices broke records for the 13th straight month in November. Prices rose 1.08 percent in November, the fastest pace of growth in six months, according to the Rating and Valuation Department.

Secondary home prices rose for the 20th successive month, the longest stretch since 1993.

While the government has repeatedly warned the public about potential interest rate rises, people still expect housing prices to increase, Tso said.

"The confidence in purchasing depends on price. When prices remain so high, it's not the right time to buy," he explained.

Looking into other categories of the consumer confidence index, the only improvement from last quarter was in economic development as it inched up 2 percent to 106.8 points. Recovering retail sales helped increase confidence, Tso said.

Confidence in stocks fell 5.4 percent from last quarter to 90.4 points, while confidence in employment also dipped slightly. The Hang Seng Index closed yesterday at 30,899 points, a 10-year high.

The mainland's index was the highest among the four regions at 105.1 points. It was followed by Macau at 88.1 points and Taiwan at 87.5 points.

amy.nip@singtaonewscorp.com

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