No bids for 32 application sites

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 March, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 March, 1999, 12:00am

Wary developers so far have not submitted bids for sites on offer on the Lands Department's application list.

The Government earmarked 32 sites totalling 22 hectares in its new land-disposal programme for sale through the application system, under which developers may apply to buy any site listed.

More than a month after the Government announced it would resume land sales, the Lands Department still has received no application.

Listed sites are not put on sale until after a developer expresses an interest in buying.

Vigers Hong Kong director of valuation Nikson Ng said a technical problem was contributing to the hesitation among developers.

Except for site areas and the potential floor space which could be built on each plot, developers had been given no details on the conditions of sale, including important provisions which would affect the use and development of the land, and the attached obligations of developers.

Without these details, developers would not make bids, especially when they were required to pay a deposit on application.

Under present market conditions, developers would be selective in buying land, whether they were sites offered at land auctions or by tender, or those on the application list.

The 32 sites include commercial, residential, hotel and industrial land. Analysts said many, including hotel and industrial lots, were unattractive.

Deposits required with applications range from $500,000 to $50 million, depending on the lot size and expected value.

For instance, deposits of $50 million are required for the residential site of the former military quarters in Kowloon Tsai, and for a commercial-residential site in Oil Street, North Point.

The two sites are expected to be the most sought-after and valuable on the list.

A property company executive said developers were cautious about expressing interest in the sites, especially when a deposit was called for.

If the financing environment was more relaxed and interest rates dropped further, developers would be more keen to acquire land, he said.

The potential risks for investment were high and it would take time for developers to warm to commitments to new ventures.

'I expect in about six months' time, the economy may get better and developers will feel more confidence entering the market,' he said.

Analysts said developers preferred to wait and see in relation to the sites on the application list.

Next month's public land auction is expected to provide a further indication of the market's direction and developers' confidence.