Housing minister says there is no need for a property watchdog

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 December, 2009, 12:00am

The government has no plan to establish a watchdog to regulate the property market, the housing chief says, amid a public outcry over developers' sales tactics.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Eva Cheng was responding to Starry Lee Wai-king, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, who asked in the Legislative Council yesterday if the government would consider setting up a body like the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), to monitor developers' sales practices.

She mentioned that a special unit at 39 Conduit Road, a residential development in Mid-levels West, was sold at an 'astronomical price' of over HK$71,000 per square foot. 'Yet there have been comments querying that. Since the buyer of that unit also bought four lower-floor units at the same time, some wonder whether the developer transferred the prices of the lower-floor units to the special unit - so that the price per square foot of that unit is much higher than that of an ordinary unit, to mislead prospective buyers.'

Cheng replied that the government had no intention of setting up an organisation similar to the SFC, which would represent a fundamental change to the property market.

She added that sales of incomplete, new residential properties were governed by the Lands Department, the Consumer Council, the Real Estate Developers' Association and various laws, including the Misrepresentation Ordinance and Theft Ordinance.

Meanwhile, Greg So Kam-leung, the acting secretary for commerce and economic development, said a television commercial for Silver Lake, a Sino Land development, featuring fictitious and computer-generated scenery of forests and lakes, was regarded as misleading.

He said the Broadcasting Authority considered that, as the advertisement displayed a full view of the concerned property, viewers would expect that it was a realistic depiction. 'As such, the ending shot was misleading.'