Property supply updates aimed at increasing market openness

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 November, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 November, 2004, 12:00am

Regular updates on property supply are to be provided by the government from this week to increase market transparency.

The administration hopes the centralised statistics will give a clearer picture of new building in the private sector.

The new data, to be published every three months by the Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau starting this Friday, will detail building completions, unsold flats and work in progress.

But the statistics will not include projections of future supply, a key barometer that officials believe is misrepresented by property agents trying to encourage speculation.

'The government will only provide the centralised figures within that period of time. But it will not make any provisional forecast of total completions in the coming years,' a source said. 'As the property market is very sensitive at the moment, any provisional forecast by the government could be seen as a gesture to either talk up or talk down the property market.'

There have been arguments over the past year on the supply of residential property in Hong Kong. Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Michael Suen Ming-yeung last year predicted that only 7,000 flats may become available in 2007, despite market analysts tipping a figure four times higher.

Property developers and agents said there would be a shortage of supply, but the government then said last month that more than 70,000 flats would be available in the coming few years.

Adrian Ngan Wai-hung, property analyst at BNP Paribas Peregrine, put the discrepancy down to figures given by Mr Suen reflecting construction starts up to June this year. Adopting a centralised set of statistics should correct such confusion, Mr Ngan said.

The first set of statistics will be posted on the government website by Friday evening.

The source also said the Housing Department would discuss returning urban sites to the government for sale to the private sector.

The department agreed in principle to return expensive sites to the government, the source said.

The Housing Authority is expected to approve a plan tomorrow to keep Kingsford Terrace in Ngau Chi Wan frozen until 2006 for sale under the Home Ownership Scheme.

The project was built by New World Development under the scheme, then was bought back for $1.4 billion by the government after sales were frozen in 2002 as part of measures to bolster the property market.