Bank staff wait in ambush as sandwich-class flats go on sale

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 May, 2010, 12:00am

Fancy a HK$150 supermarket voucher or a free lunch? Just walk past the Housing Society's Tai Hang office, where hundreds of applicants to the Sandwich Class Housing Scheme chose their flats yesterday.

The first group of 130 applicants went to the office to pick their favourites from the last batch of 838 flats under the scheme, aimed at people too well off for public flats but not earning enough to buy private flats.

After about an hour choosing flats and signing contracts, the buyers had to deal with bank staff luring them to sign up for a mortgage scheme as soon as they stepped out of the office.

Representatives of at least eight banks jammed Wun Sha Street with booths and pull-up posters advertising more than 100 mortgage schemes. Staff rushed up to every person who stepped out of the office - without asking whether they were buyers or staff - and handed them promotion pamphlets.

Some banks clipped supermarket cash vouchers on their handbills, shouting: 'No commitment needed, just leave your call number and get HK$150 cash coupons.'

Other banks offered lunch at a nearby restaurant where staff could talk to clients as they ate.

'We can discuss the offers as we have lunch,' the promoters said.

One of the clients dragged into the restaurant said he applied for the housing scheme simply because it was the cheapest option available.

'I picked The Pinnacle simply because it is affordable. I do not ask for convenience any more,' said the buyer, who works in Central but whose future home is in Tseung Kwan O. He is renting a flat at present on an outlying island because of the lower rent.

'I have been lowering my sights in order to buy a flat. The property price kept shooting up and I was not able to afford a flat even after working for many years,' he said after securing a 600 sq ft flat for about HK$2 million.

Another successful applicant, Michael Chan, went to the office yesterday although his appointment was not until today.

'I am happy because I can afford a flat under the scheme. I am unhappy because many of my friends who drew bad lots are still struggling in the private market,' said the teacher, who now rents a flat on eastern Hong Kong Island with his wife.

'Sandwich-class housing is the one and only option for me.'

The Housing Society said 60 per cent of the applicants who attended on the first day had signed a deal.

Strong demand

The first group of 130 Sandwich Class Housing Scheme applicants went to the Housing Society office yesterday

The proportion of those attending the office who signed a deal: 60%