59,000 new private flats expected within four years
The government estimates that 59,000 new flats will become available in the private housing market in the coming three to four years.
That number includes completed units that are unsold and flats under construction as well as planned developments approved by the government on sites already sold or granted.
The planned developments, which have yet to start construction, comprise 21 projects that are expected to deliver a total of 12,000 flats, the Transport and Housing Bureau said in a written reply to lawmaker Fred Li Wah-ming. He had asked for details after the bureau promised to increase the supply of housing.
'The government will impose a building covenant date in the land leases to govern the completion date of the project but will not set requirements on the date for commencing construction,' the bureau said. 'The timing for these projects to commence construction works will depend on whether site formation is required and when their building plans are approved.'
The bureau did not list the locations and sizes of the 21 sites and the expected earliest dates for commencement of work as Li had requested. Earlier, it said developers were normally required to complete construction within four to six years.
Flats under construction and unsold in presale, another component of future housing supply, number 40,000.
There are 7,000 completed flats that remain unsold. When these units would be put up for sale was a commercial decision the developers would make and one that the government was not able to predict, the bureau said.
Lawrence Poon Wing-cheung, a senior lecturer in real estate development at City University, said he was not worried the supply of 59,000 private flats would fail to meet the demand, as at present there were more than 40,000 vacant flats in Hong Kong.
'It's not that supply cannot meet our population growth, which has been slowing down. Many buyers are investors or property speculators, some from the mainland,' Poon said.
'I'm more worried that if the central government tightens liquidity and less hot money is in the Hong Kong market, the property prices will lack support and drop, and so many thousands of flats on the market will be at risk.'
Meanwhile, the Housing Authority has surrendered nine public housing estates in the past five years for redevelopment. Totalling 6.8 hectares, they will be used as open space and for schools and community facilities.
In addition, the 3.8-hectare former North Point Estate will be redeveloped for private housing and a hotel.
In the pipeline
21 projects approved but yet to start construction will yield 12,000 flats
Privately developed units that have been completed but remain unsold number: 7,000