Price rises dampen buying activity

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 March, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 March, 1999, 12:00am

Property transactions registered with the Land Registry fell 11 per cent last month compared with January to 8,364.

The fall highlighted the slowdown in activity this year as buyers turned cautious in the face of higher prices, analysts said.

The seasonal factor of the Lunar New Year holiday also influenced the performance.

Registered transactions reached 15,146 in November and then eased to 14,920 in December and 9,395 in January. Agents said the rally in the fourth quarter of last year drove residential prices up 10 to 15 per cent.

The value of February transactions amounted to $19.5 billion, down 18.9 per cent from January.

The sharper fall in value terms was because the market was dominated by trading of lower-priced properties, agents said.

Last month's figures reflect the market activity at the end of December and January due to the normal four-week time-lag between transaction and registration.

Centaline Property Agency estimated that secondary market transactions for private-sector flats fell about 31 per cent to 3,769 last month.

Average flat price was $3,272 per square foot, down 3.59 per cent from January, it said.

But average flats prices in 26 selected housing estates edged up 1.14 per cent to $3,647 per square foot, Centaline said.

The agency estimated that registered transactions for this month, which reflected the previous month's activity, would be near the 8,000 level.

But it said there were signs of recovery in residential property transaction volume since the end of last month.