Sales at highest level in a year

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 March, 2012, 12:00am


New offerings are expected to release pent-up demand and help lift Macau home sales to their highest levels in nearly a year, estate agents say.

Jane Liu Zee-ka, managing director of Ricacorp (Macau) Properties, said total sales of new and secondary homes in Macau might exceed 1,000 transactions this month, which would be the highest since last April, when there were 3,500 transactions.

The estimate is significantly higher than about 400 residential property sales recorded by the agency in February and some 100 in January. Property sales in Macau dropped sharply to just a few hundred per month after the government announced a special stamp duty and curbs on mortgage lending in April. The move was aimed at curbing speculation in the market.

'The local economy is growing and many locals are buying properties again to beat inflation or for rental income,' Liu said. 'Some new residential property projects launched this month have attracted a lot of pent-up buying power.'

At Park Residence - the third phase of residential property project One Oasis, Cotai South - at least 250 flats have been sold since last week. The project is co-developed by five firms including Nan Fung, ITC Properties, Linkeast Investments, Arch Capital Management, and the Success Universe group.

The pre-sale units - ranging from studio flats to two-bedroom flats sized from 500 square feet to nearly 1,200 sq ft - were sold at between HK$4,900 and HK$5,900 per sq ft. This was higher than the prices of around HK$4,000 per sq ft fetched by flats sold in the project a year ago.

'With Macau's economy growing at 20 to 30 per cent a year, I think it is reasonable for [luxury] flat prices to rise by 10 per cent ... or even 20 per cent this year,' said Edwin Cheung Hon-kit, chairman of ITC Properties.

Demand was strong, he said, and at present only about 1,000 new flats are being released on the private market annually compared to about 3,000 marriages that take place each year in Macau.

'I think the property market will do better than last year because interest rates should remain low at least until 2014 ... and I don't think the global economy will turn too bad,' said Cheung. Also, he added, the special stamp duty would not affect sales of its project because buyers were signing purchase agreements now but would take delivery before 2014.

Chinese Estates Group also launched its luxury residential project La Scala, which has sold at least five special units, including a 7,000 sq ft flat with a record-breaking price tag of HK$83.8 million.

The five units totalled HK$400 million, with an average selling price at HK$12,000 per sq ft. It is planning to sell other regular units priced from HK$7,000 per sq ft.

Macau resident Gordon Tin Kwan-sin, who earns more than HK$20,000 a month and lives with his family, bought an 800 sq ft flat on the secondary market for HK$2.95 million in Taipa last month as a long-term investment.

Upbeat about Macau's rental market, Tin is going to lease his property at HK$7,000 per month, representing a yield of about 3 per cent. He expects the flat's price may rise by 10 per cent this year, or 20 per cent in two to three years; and easier credit conditions had also encouraged him to make the investment.

'With the rapid development of the gaming industry, many people are moving to Macau and rents have risen by HK$1,000 from last year. The supply of rental flats is limited and you don't need to worry about finding a tenant,' said Tin.