Flats race furious in first major sale

Business | 15 Jan 2018

Hong Kong's red-hot property market kicked off 2018 with hundreds queuing to buy flats in the first major property launch of the year, backing expectations strong demand will further lift record prices by 5 to 20 percent over the year.

The Asian financial hub has one of the world's most expensive housing markets, with private home prices shattering historic records for 13 consecutive months, rising nearly 200 percent since 2008.

Among the some 100 presale apartments offered by Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016), the least expensive flat of 382 sellable square feet costs about HK$8 million, or HK$21,000 per square foot, though with a certain payment plan, the buyer could get a 22 percent discount.

The flats are located at St Barths, a development in Ma On Shan.

"For everybody in Hong Kong, buying a flat is a life goal," said 26-year-old Ms Chau, one of the some 600 potential buyers queuing up in the first hour on Saturday.

"I am angry that housing prices keep going up. Now the value of HK$10,000 is like HK$1,000 in the past. For many people, they cannot afford to buy unless they have their family's help," Chau said.

While Hong Kong's flats are getting more expensive, many are also getting smaller.

This month, major developer Henderson Land Development (0012) is expected to launch sales for a residential project with flat sizes ranging between 180 and 420 sq ft.

Multiple property consultancies and agencies expect home prices to climb a further 5 to 20 percent in 2018, with no immediate end in sight to the boom.

Although the SAR's de facto central bank has imposed eight rounds of mortgage tightening measures since 2009 - on top of the government's tax and regulatory measures -- analysts say these measures have effectively locked up the second-hand supply, further fueling prices.

But the government stresses it has no intention to relax the so-called "spicy measures."

"Due to very low interest rates, high liquidity and the imbalance of housing demand and supply, the property market is now still red-hot," acting Secretary for Transport and Housing, Raymond So Wai-man told legislators.

"Prices are still at an extremely high level, and there is no sign of them coming down. Therefore at the moment, the government has no intention to ease spicy measures."

The city's flats are ranked the second most expensive in the world after Monaco, according to data from property consultancy Knight Frank, which shows US$1 million (HK$7.8 million) would only buy 200 sq ft of prime property in Hong Kong, compared to 270 sq ft in New York City, or 320 sq ft in London.


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