Housing chief warns against panic buying

Assurance given of stable supply of homes as 45,000 apply for 988 subsidised Tsing Yi flats

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 January, 2013, 3:50am

The housing minister has urged Hongkongers not to rush to buy flats, after home prices were marked up and housing demand surged following the chief executive's policy address.

"People should not buy flats in a panic," said Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, issuing an assurance that the government would ensure a stable supply of flats.

"Most of the working class need mortgages to buy homes and to repay loans in instalments. They have to consider affordability in the long run and future market changes," he said.

Cheung's remarks came a day after the Housing Society's Greenview Villa project and the authority's revised Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) received an overwhelming response. Greenview Villa in Tsing Yi attracted almost 45,000 applications for its 988 flats, while 5,000 flats being sold under the revised HOS drew more than 30,000 applications.

Meanwhile, the Development Bureau chief backtracked on Leung Chun-ying's remark after Wednesday's speech that a development plan for the northeastern New Territories would be managed solely by the government.

Speaking on a TVB programme about the controversial plan to develop a new town in the area to boost home supply, Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po said the government had yet to decide whether it would buy up all the plots from private developers or to develop the land jointly with them.

In a televised forum after Wednesday's address, Leung had said the government would "develop the new town in a traditional way, which means the government will resume the land to develop".

In response to calls for the government to use for subsidised housing sites for which it is inviting purchase applications from private developers, Chan said eight of the 23 plots available were too small for public housing or HOS flats.

He also said the government had to strike a balance between land for subsidised housing and private flats.

On RTHK's Hong Kong Letter programme yesterday, Leung said if the government came up with any feasible measures on home supply that could benefit the public, "we will roll them out any time and not wait until the next policy address".