Market stronger, says housing chief

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 June, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 June, 2001, 12:00am

The property market is improving steadily with an increasing number of residential flat transactions in recent months, Housing Secretary Dominic Wong Sing-wah said yesterday.

Speaking after a luncheon, Mr Wong - who last September was accused of trying to talk up property prices - said there were signs confidence was returning.

'The property market on the whole is picking up in a steady and wholesome manner,' he said. 'Both the levels of transactions and flat prices are pretty good. I hope this trend will keep up.'

The number of transactions in the past few months, ranging between 5,000 and 7,000, were at least on a par with levels from 1998 to 2000, he said.

He said recent bank-rate cuts had stimulated buyers' confidence and flat prices had stabilised after plunging by about 50 per cent from their peak in October 1997.

The poor response at an auction of two land plots in Sha Tin and Tsuen Wan two weeks ago did not paint an accurate picture of the market as a whole. 'You cannot judge the overall market from only two single cases and two relatively small plots,' he said. 'You need to look at the whole picture.'

The executive director of property agency Midland Realty, Victor Cheung Kam-shing, agreed that the residential market was picking up but said flat prices were unlikely to rise as there was sufficient supply.

His company's statistics showed the number of transactions in June was 20 per cent higher than in May, and the number of new flats sold in June was 50 per cent up on May.

'I have been optimistic since the end of last year when flat sales started to pick up continuously.' He said buyers were turning from small to larger flats, which was also encouraging.

Mr Cheung said too many government officials had made inaccurate predictions about the trend of the property market, but he believed Mr Wong's words would probably encourage more people to buy flats.