Second-hand property prices in Hong Kong rebound modestly

After three weeks of decline, market rises but analysts warn outlook remains bumpy

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 December, 2012, 3:12am

Prices of second-hand homes in Hong Kong rebounded modestly last week, ending a three-week decline, but analysts warned the market outlook remained uncertain.

The Centa-City Leading Index, which tracks prices at 100 housing estates in the city, closed at 114.57 for the week to December 9, up from 114.38 points the week before, a rise of 0.17 per cent.

The index hit a record high of 116.81 points for the week of November 11.

But in the following three weeks, second-hand home prices dropped by an accumulated 2.08 per cent.

The index's benchmark of 100 reflects prices in July 1997.

In the meantime, the market also saw more buyers looking for homes. Centaline Property said it had 1,000 groups of home seekers making appointments to view flats this weekend, an increase of 7.5 per cent compared with that in the previous week.

But, analysts said the week-on-week figure did not reflect the overall market trend.

"Transaction volumes remained thin. The week-on-week figure fluctuates so it cannot represent the overall market direction," said Thomas Lam, director and head of research for Greater China at property consultancy Knight Frank.

Lam said the market would remain in the doldrums until the Lunar New Year.

"A clear market direction will be seen when developers start launching their new projects, expected after Chinese Lunar New Year in mid-February. How they price their products will affect the overall market movement," Lam said. He said that if developers priced their properties close to the secondary market levels, owners of second-hand flats might cut prices to grab buyers, leading to an overall market correction.

But Lam expected developers would prefer to maintain headline price tags but offer incentives to stimulate buying demand.

David Ng Ka-chun, head of China and Hong Kong property research at Macquarie Capital Securities, believed overall home prices would fall when developers started launching projects.

Ng said sector-wise, the primary market might see larger price volatility over the secondary market as the primary market was more reliant on non-Hong Kong permanent residents.

On October 26, the government said non-permanent residents and corporate buyers (Hong Kong-registered or foreign-registered) would have to pay an extra 15 per cent stamp duty on home prices, regardless of their holding period.

After Cheung Kong had a disappointing sales response at its One West Kowloon development in Lai Chi Kok this month, Ng said developers would price products cautiously.