HK home sales fall to 32-month low

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 November, 2011, 12:00am


Home sales in Hong Kong dropped to a 32-month low last month as the market fell victim to fears of a global economic recession, rising mortgage rates and credit tightening.

According to the Land Registry, 5,675 deals were lodged in October, down 13.7 per cent from September's 6,579 deals, and the lowest level since February 2009.

The total value of deals also declined to a new low since February 2009 - HK$27.56 billion, down 11.7 per cent from September's HK$31.22 billion.

Midland Realty said only 3,939 properties changed hands in the secondary market last month, the first time the number has fallen below 4,000 since the global financial crisis hit in late 2008.

Because of the time lag between when people buy a property and register it with the government, typically about four weeks, the October transaction figures better reflect the state of September's sales market.

'Then [September], the outlook for the housing market was heavily clouded by volatile stock markets worldwide and interest rate rises,' said Buggle Lau Ka-fai, Midland Realty's chief analyst. 'Most potential buyers also held back their purchases ahead of Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's policy speech, which he was due to deliver on October 12. This stalled sales.'

But property sales volume had rebounded since it became evident that the housing policy outlined in the speech would not harm the private sector, he said.

In the primary market, there were 791 new flats - of which 647 registered sale and purchase agreements were recorded at La Splendeur in Tseung Kwan O - which sold for a total of HK$5.98 billion.

Since the cloud that was hanging over the market has been removed, developers have sped up their marketing of new projects over the past fortnight. Lau said he believed sales of new homes would rise in the next two months as potential buyers had regained confidence.

Yesterday, Sun Hung Kai Properties said it would release another 50 apartments at the Wings in Tseung Kwan O on Saturday, at an average of HK$8,750 per square foot.

According to data provided by Centaline Mortgage Broker, HSBC ranked as the biggest mortgage lender in the secondary market in the first 10 months with a market share of 25.8 per cent. It was followed by Bank of China at 22.3 per cent.

'HSBC has topped the market for the past consecutive few years,' said Ivy Wong, the managing director of Centaline Mortgage Broker, a unit of Centaline Property Agency.

Since January, banks have extended 109,643 mortgage loans to buyers who bought flats in the secondary market.