Sandwich-class buyers to have choice of 2,352 units

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 April, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 April, 1997, 12:00am

The Hong Kong Housing Society (HKHS) is launching three subsidised residential developments catering for the so-called sandwich class or families earning between $30,001 and $60,000 a month.

The three projects, providing a total of 2,352 flats, are being offered at $3,400 to $3,500 per square foot, representing a discount of 37 per cent to market rates, according to the society.

The Pinnacle in Tseung Kwan O comprises 1,424 units of 568 to 827 sq ft in four blocks. Unit prices vary from $1.54 million to $3.38 million - an average of $3,510 per sq ft.

Sunshine Grove is a twin-tower development in Sha Tin comprising 508 units of 604 to 889 sq ft. Units are selling at $1.77 million to $3.39 million each, averaging $3,416 per sq ft.

The third project is Hibiscus Park in Kwai Chung, with 420 units of 561 to 801 sq ft in two blocks. They are selling at $1.67 million to $3.03 million or an average of $3,392 per sq ft.

Analysts said there were many prospective buyers for private-sector flats among the sandwich class.

The three HKHS projects, offered at substantially discounted prices, inevitably would absorb some buying demand in the open market.

The average buyer would find it hard to afford flats in the private sector, analysts added.

Analysts said the projects, which were being offered at a large price discount, were likely to draw substantial interest from the sandwich class.

Buyers from the sandwich class are specifically targeted because they cannot afford to buy in the private sector, but are ineligible for public housing or Home Ownership Scheme units.

The sandwich-class housing scheme, which was successful in helping the Government achieve its pledge of raising home ownership in the territory, has attracted criticism since its launch.

Critics question whether it is justifiable to subsidise families earning a monthly income of up to $60,000.

HKHS provides flats of up to nearly 900 sq ft for the sandwich class, and the prices of the most expensive units in the latest three projects exceed $3 million each.

Critics said if a family within the sandwich class bracket was willing to and had the financial ability to pay more than $3 million for a 900 sq ft flat, it probably could purchase a smaller private-sector flat at open market price.

The Government's sandwich-class housing development scheme was launched in December 1994. The scheme is aimed at providing about 30,000 flats by 2003 for middle-income families.

Four sandwich-class housing projects have been sold already, providing more than 3,600 flats.

For the latest three projects on offer, interested buyers who meet sandwich-class criteria are required to submit applications by May 12. Ballot results of valid applications will be announced on May 31, and applicants need to go through screening before purchasing flats.

The HKHS is able to offer the flats at below-market prices because the Government grants land for sandwich-classing housing at 50 per cent of full market value.

The flats are subject to five-year, re-sale restrictions and upon re-sale the owners are required to repay the discount on market value to the Government.

FACT FILE Developments: The Pinnacle in Tseung Kwan O; Sunshine Grove in Sha Tin; Hibiscus Park in Kwai Chung Developer: Hong Kong Housing Society Number of flats on sale: 2,352 Size of flats: 568 to 827 sq ft for The Pinnacle; 604 to 889 sq ft for Sunshine Grove; 561 to 801 sq ft for Hibiscus Park Average price: $3,392 to $3,510 per sq ft, representing a 37 per cent discount over current market prices Application period: April 25 to May 12 Completion date: mid-1998 to end-1998 Terms and conditions: Qualified buyers restricted to families earning between $30,001 and $60,000 a month. Buyers are subject to five-year re-sale restrictions. Those selling the flats need to pay back to the Government an amount equivalent to the current market value of the subsidised portion of the original flat purchase price.