Home Ownership Scheme will not undermine property market

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 December, 2009, 12:00am

I wish to express my dissatisfaction with the government's erroneous housing policy.

The chief executive said that only the prices of luxury properties were sky high and this would not affect the average home buyers. However, he has not considered the displacement effect.

The would-be luxury home buyers are displaced by very rich foreign or speculative buyers who can pay more. Therefore, they turn their attention to lower-grade property. This in turn displaces prospective buyers at that grade. Flats in Ho Man Tin and Taikoo Shing have always been much sought after by members of Hong Kong's middle class.

Now they are displaced. Officials have said this group could opt for Tin Shui Wai and Tuen Mun. But then where do the home seekers on the next rung of the ladder go?

Some officials have also argued that people have to pay more, because you must pay for better-quality housing. Developers are putting up residential blocks with clubhouses and swimming pools. There may also be better air flow between blocks. But these things are done at the expense of unit size. Newer developments have smaller units than the older apartments.

In fact, in some of the new developments the guest bedroom is so small that it can scarcely accommodate a single bed with insufficient room for other furniture, for example, a writing desk and wardrobe.

I do not see this as being better quality.

Given these conditions, I am not surprised that so many Hong Kong families decide to have only one child.

I do not understand why people here accept the use of 'construction floor area' for the dwelling size, which may vary from 70 per cent to 90 per cent of the real 'usable floor area'. The construction floor area in the sales brochure is there to trick and confuse you and should have been abolished a long time ago.

Finally, it is nonsense to say that the reintroduction of the Home Ownership Scheme would crush the property market.

Property prices in Singapore are at an all-time high. Has the Singapore government stopped building the Housing and Development Board flats, which are similar to the Home Ownership Scheme? Certainly not. In fact, some of these flats have a usable floor area of more than 1,000 sq ft.

Apparently, the mainland government is contemplating the construction of non-commercial type dwellings with a view to selling them to its citizens at affordable prices.

So what is wrong with the Home Ownership Scheme?

If the SAR government considers that it has no detrimental effect on the private development sector, then it should be restarted at once.

At least, Hong Kong citizens, just like their Singaporean counterparts, will have an alternative way of getting decent accommodation.

Edmund Chen, Quarry Bay