Less than 20pc want own homes

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 February, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 February, 2000, 12:00am

Less than one-fifth of families plan to buy their own homes in the next 10 years, according to a government survey.

The findings were being seen last night as a blow to Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's home-ownership pledge.

The survey is an update of a previous poll on housing aspirations conducted in 1996, based on which the Government set a target of building 85,000 flats each year in the public and private sectors.

And in accordance with the 1996 findings, Mr Tung set a target of having 70 per cent of families owning their homes by 2007.

The two targets were a key part of his maiden Policy Address in October 1997.

At present, the home-ownership rate is about 53 per cent, roughly the same as in 1997.

Buyers have been discouraged by a big fall in property prices over the past two years during the recession.

Prices were also pegged back by government measures introduced to halt rampant speculation in the property market in 1996.

Of the 12,384 households polled in the Planning Department-commissioned survey, only 28.9 per cent indicated they would move home in the next 10 years. Of these, 66.6 per cent would opt to buy a new flat.

The report, to be discussed by the Legislative Council housing panel today, does not explain why some families do not want to move or why some wanting to move do not want to buy homes.

It says the most common reason for moving is to improve the living environment.

Only 14.9 per cent of families said they wanted to move because they would like a 'self-owned flat'.

And medium-sized flats of 538 to 860 square feet were the most popular choice for this batch of home-hunters, according to the survey, conducted in mid-1999.

The survey found average mortgage repayments, presently about $9,100 a month, took up about one-third of family income.

Those living in rented flats used about 14 per cent of their income for rent.

The findings also show 82.9 per cent of public housing estate tenants have no intention of moving out of subsidised housing in the next 10 years, despite various Housing Authority schemes to encourage them to do so.

The authority has plans to cut production of its subsidised Home Ownership Scheme flats to persuade more people to move into the private sector.

Secretary for Housing Dominic Wong Shing-wah has asked the authority to sell more of its rental units to tenants.

Last week, Mr Wong said the time was right to buy flats.

Society for Community Organisation director Ho Hei-wah said the findings showed Mr Tung's home-ownership pledge had flopped.

'People do not want to buy flats when flat prices are falling,' the organisation director said.

'And buying a flat is only one of the ways to improve one's living quality. People can choose to rent a unit,' he said.