The Peak remains on top with sky-high prices

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 June, 2009, 12:00am

Besides being a tourist attraction, The Peak has been a symbol of wealth and status since the 19th century.

It offers the most sought-after surroundings, with views of the harbour and the outlying islands. Over the years, its address and its exclusivity have attracted tycoons, senior executives and celebrities alike, wanting to invest and live in the neighbourhood also favoured by government and consular officials. Properties on The Peak are among the most expensive in the world.

Actor-screenwriter-director Stephen Chow Sing-chi was a former owner of a 6,696 sqft, five-storey detached house at 7Pollock's Path. The property was sold in 2006 for HK$117 million at HK$32,000 per square foot. According to last month's Centaline figures, the highest transaction of HK$120 million was completed at Abergeldie, 52 Plantation Road.

Abergeldie consists of eight blocks of three-storey, semi-detached houses, each with private gardens, terraces and a carport. It has an outdoor communal swimming pool and a tennis court. The second highest transaction was HK$96 million at Rosecliff, 20 Tai Tam Road, Island South, and the third highest was HK$84 million at Villa Rosa, 88 Red Hill Road. So are the property prices on The Peak recession proof?

'Overall, the average price per square foot now is about HK$40,000. If you compare this to 2007, when the average price per square foot on The Peak was above HK$50,000, this represents a decrease of 20 per cent,' said Simon Lo, director at Colliers International's research and advisory.

Mr Lo said like the properties on Island South, house prices on The Peak had been affected by the economic downturn. But given owners of these properties were still cash rich, it would be unlikely that houses on The Peak would be sold at a distressed price. Some owners, he said, were happy to see their properties remain vacant.

But for buyers keen to climb the property ladder, there are a few opportunities. There are only about 2,000 houses on The Peak, with about 20 units up for sale now. Mr Lo estimated that 30 per cent of the properties were available for lease and 70 per cent were either occupied or vacant. Steve Lam, director of residential sales at Savills, said that some deals at The Peak could still withstand the impact of the downturn. Last year, a 5,069 sqft house in Severn Road, with harbour views and green hills on both sides, was sold for HK$284 million.

This means the price per square foot was more than HK$50,000. In fact, Sun Hung Kai's three-year-old development in Severn Road has avoided the fall in house prices, according to Mr Lo. Earlier this year, another 4,325 sqft house was sold for HK$238 million.

According to Mr Lam, properties that are available for sale on The Peak, such as the 7,100 sqft house at 15 Bluff Path, by developer Chuang's Properties, have price tags of about HK$400 million or more.

Another 7,000 sqft house at 3-5 Plunkett's Road, by developer Tai Cheung Holding, has been valued at HK$350 million.