Thwarted buyers get Macau housing deal

Top News | Phoenix Un 4 Jun 2019

For the first time, buyers of a nonstarter housing project in Macau can apply to buy flats built by the government on the same site.

This follows Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on's executive order yesterday informing buyers of Pearl Horizon they can apply to buy the apartments which the government will build on the same site starting on June 17.

The land had originally been granted to developer Polytec Asset Holding more than 25 years ago. Even before any building plans were drawn up, 3,020 buyers had purchased apartments.

Chui ordered that buyers of the off-plan flats and second-hand buyers who comply with the factors stated in the "legal system for temporary housing and housing for exchange in the framework of urban renewal" could apply to Macau Urban Renewal to buy into the "housing for exchange" from June 17 to August 16.

Macau Urban Renewal is a company owned by the Macau government to implement urban renewal plans. The housing for exchange would be constructed in the original location of the Pearl Horizon site in the Aeria Preta reclamation zone.

Flat buyers who do not apply to purchase the housing for exchange will no longer be qualified after the deadline.

The price of each square meter of the housing for exchange flats would be calculated according to the off-plan flat contract, and each buyer - an individual, couple or co-owners - can buy only one housing for exchange flat.

Macau Urban Renewal chairman Lam Kam-seng said it is not like the public rental housing or home ownership scheme of Hong Kong. Instead, it would be constructed like private estates.

"Unit sizes will be 5 percent larger or smaller than the original size [of Pearl Horizon flats] as the flats will be planned all over again," Lam said. "But as they will be planned under private flat standards, these flats should be good."

Lam said he did not know yet how many flats would be built and when the flat buyers could move in because planning for the new project will only begin after the applications are completed.

But the chairman of the Pearl Horizon Owners Commission, Kou Meng-pok, said he was dissatisfied that each buyer could buy only one flat under the new format, no matter how many flats each had previously booked.

"About 1,000 buyers bought more than one flat each. Some bought two flats of 700 square feet each," Kou said. "We did pay the stamp duty and had property registration to the government, but the government failed to guarantee our private property."

Kou also slammed the government for lacking concrete planning for the housing for exchange.

"There were models and written plans when Hong Kong HOS flat purchasers drew lots for the new flats, but here we have none. What if we get nothing finally after we have registered?" Kou said.

He added he doubted the government is concerned about the plight of buyers.

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