Australia searches for buyers from Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 August, 2004, 12:00am

A soft Australian housing market has forced the country's developers to widen the net of buyers by marketing their projects in Hong Kong.

The Grove at Glenhaven is a 37-unit town house development, 45 minutes' drive from the central business district of Sydney.

Each unit has three to four bedrooms and is selling for A$545,000 (HK$3.08 million) to $607,000. Developed by Australand, a member of CapitaLand, it will be completed by the end of this year.

The sale comes as the Australian housing market shows signs of slowing, with finance for homes and investment properties dropping in June. Housing finance fell 3.3 per cent in June, with investor finance slumping 8.8 per cent, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics' figures released last week.

Further bad news was that Australia's central bank put the economy on notice early this month, saying it would not be surprised if interest rates had to be raised further.

Australand New South Wales sales manager John Foley said housing prices in Sydney had dropped modestly. But he was optimistic about the medium and long term, citing lack of supply as a reason. Quoting the Housing Industry Association of Australia, he said the price of land in Sydney had risen about 50 times since 1973, while the cost of building a home had increased only six times.

Edmond Lai, the company's Asian marketing manager, said the market was well positioned to rebound after the slowdown. He was looking for potential buyers who shared the same view.

He said Glenhaven was a luxury residential area that offered big houses. The Grove town house development catered for those who preferred to move to a luxury area but could not afford to live in big houses. Expatriates, Hong Kong migrants and pure investors are the target.

Mr Foley said people who bought in this area were usually end-users, but he believed landlords would easily lease their units and receive a rental return of 4 per cent.

All units are being sold in Hong Kong and Canada simultaneously. Six units were sold by Monday afternoon, two in Hong Kong.