15,800 apply for 476 cheap flats
The latest offer of government-subsidised flats has been 33 times oversubscribed - believed to be a record in recent years.
A total of 476 resale flats on offer in the Home Ownership Scheme attracted 15,807 applications over the seven-day application period which ended on October 30. The flats are spread across 50 housing schemes in Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, the New Territories and Lantau.
Housing officials drew a ballot yesterday to determine applicants' priority for flat selection, which will start later this month. Critics had said that public confidence in subsidised flats had reached its lowest level in 15 years.
A batch of Home Ownership Scheme flats for sale in May, in which about 4,000 were available, attracted about five applicants per flat. When 6,800 flats were offered in December last year, there were 27,000 applications, an over-subscription rate of 3.9.
'Strong demand for Home Ownership Scheme flats can be seen from the overwhelming response,' said Lai Ng Suet Mui, acting assistant director of applications and home ownership.
A Housing Department spokeswoman said: 'We shouldn't compare this with previous sales; it's like comparing apples and oranges. There are fewer than 500 flats on offer right now.'
She said she believed the high demand might have been influenced by the department's decision to delay the sale of new flats for six months, until early next year. The department delayed the sale because of the slump in the property market.