Buyers revel in price war

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 April, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 April, 1999, 12:00am

Second-hand home sales have increased as much as 35 per cent last month as a mortgage price war and other incentives encourage buyers, according to property agents.

However, most flats changing hands were valued at $3 million or less and prices had barely moved, rising by 2 per cent at most, they said.

While buying sentiment had improved, agents said overall transactions would be about 5,000 for last month, below the 6,000 they considered normal.

Centaline Property Agency managing director Shih Wing-ching said: 'Transactions in the second-hand market were not all that good.' The March increase had come on the back of poor February figures, he said.

Agents said they were not surprised by the surge in activity because the Lunar New Year was always a slow time for property sales.

Mr Shih said commissions at Centaline had hit $100 million for the month, almost double the $55 million recorded in February.

While second-hand sales were up in some areas such as Taikoo Shing and South Horizons, they had suffered in areas where developers were launching new projects, agents said.

Tseung Kwan O, Yuen Long and Tuen Mun had seen second-hand sales slump as developers offered new projects at prices about 10 per cent below the market, they said.

Government incentives such as the home-starter loan scheme and the Housing Authority's home-purchase loan scheme had attracted some buyers.

Banks offering mortgages as low as the prime rate had also helped bring people into the market, agents said.