Home downsizing scheme to suit needs of elderly set to take off

Local | Stella Wong 19 Sep 2019

A scheme to help elderly owners of subsidized flats sell their homes and buy smaller ones will be launched on October 14, the Hong Kong Housing Society announced.

Owners of some 1,300 flats in 11 developments are eligible for the scheme.

The "Flat for Flat Pilot Scheme for Elderly Owners" enables those aged 60 or above, who have owned a subsidized unit under the society for 10 years or more, to sell their flats on the society's secondary market.

They will then be permitted to buy a smaller flat among the 390,000 with premiums unpaid in the same market, or on the secondary market under the Hong Kong Housing Authority.

To be eligible, the owners and listed family members of the flat must all be 60 or above.

The owners or listed family members must also not have owned or sold domestic properties in Hong Kong for two years before submitting an application and until the signing the provisional agreement for sale and purchase.

Wong Kit-loong, the society's chief executive, said the scheme aims to provide elderly owners with a way to move to a unit that better suits their needs. The vacated flats can be used for families who need more living space.

"All owners have to be clear about their financial situation and living arrangements before joining the scheme," he said.

Owners joining the scheme have to obtain the related permits and certificates and sell their flat before purchasing a smaller one, but there is no time limit.

The scheme currently covers 11 developments - phase one and two of Healthy Village, Ka Wai Chuen, Clague Garden Estate, Broadview Garden, Cronin Garden, Verbena Heights, Bo Shek Mansion, Lakeside Garden, Kai Tak Garden and Kingston Terrace.

The society will review the scheme after one year, and is open to lowering the age limit.

Lawmaker Tony Tse Wai-chuen welcomed the scheme and advised the Housing Authority to consider joining if it is successful.

But legislator Andrew Wan Siu-kin estimates the number of applicants to be in single digits, if not zero.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Public Housing Estates and Concerning Youth Housing Rights Alliance suggested the government subsidize 1,000 first-time home buyers with 30 percent of property prices for private flats costing less than HK$6 million.

The government or Housing Authority would then own 30 percent of the flat and restrictions should be imposed on reselling the apartments.

Buyers receiving the subsidy would also be limited to eligible white form applicants of the Home Ownership Scheme.

Another suggestion was to launch a pilot scheme to impose restrictions on part of the land, which only allows property developers to sell flats to first-time home buyers who are permanent residents.

stellast.wong@singtaonewscorp.com

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