March flat sales up 186pc from a year ago
Peggy Sito and Kelvin Wong
Property sales rose 186.4 per cent in value last month compared with March last year, reaffirming a revival in the housing sector.
The total value of sales lodged with the Land Registry was $40.9 billion, an increase of 34.2 per cent from February.
Some 13,924 property sales were registered last month, up 140.1 per cent from March last year and 27 per cent from February.
Of the deals, more than 80 per cent were for residential property. This was an increase of 21.2 per cent over February and 151.6 per cent compared with March 2003.
The March figures are seen as a reflection of market activity in February because of the four-week lag between the time sales are transacted and registered.
Centaline Property Agency said it was the third consecutive month of rising property sales, taking total transactions in the first quarter to 34,338, up 15.9 per cent from the last quarter of 2003.
Home prices rose 22.4 per cent in the first quarter, according to the agency's property index.
But the quick pace of the recovery may not be maintained.
Centaline's senior research and marketing manager Wong Leung-sing said figures would drop in April as property sales slowed following the sharp rebound of the past few months.
Peter Wong Tung-shun, Standard Chartered Bank director and chairman of the Hong Kong Association of Banks, said that during the past four to five months the price of luxury flats had risen nearly 35 per cent, while medium-priced flats had risen about 20 per cent.
'Although I believe prices will stabilise for the time being I'm still quite optimistic about the property market performance this year,' he said.