Buyers, have we got a deal for you!

Those eligible for subsidised homes are mobbed by agents trying to coax them to buy elsewhere

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 April, 2013, 4:33am

Homebuyers who turned up to select a subsidised flat from a Tsing Yi project that went on sale yesterday found that it wasn't just the cheap homes in hot demand - so was their business.

At least 30 real estate agents were also there, delivering their sales pitches to the mostly middle-aged buyers as they tried to persuade them to part with their cash elsewhere.

It was an unusual sight at a Housing Society sale. The Greenview Villa project was launched in November, before the latest round of market-cooling measures kicked in, meaning the flats will cost more now than some homes in the private market.

That is because the Tsing Yi homes are being sold at a 30 per cent discount to the market price - the much higher market price of late last year.

The society is offering 988 flats in the project, which will be available in 2015. Individuals with a monthly income of HK$25,000 or less, and households earning HK$40,000 or less per month, are eligible to buy the flats. They are priced, after the discount, from HK$5,841 to HK$7,402 per sq ft.

At the society's office in Tai Hang yesterday, the 160 applicants chosen by ballot to get first pick of the flats were getting plenty of attention, as the property agents milling around outside tried to convince them there were better deals to be had elsewhere.

Centaline even put on a free bus shuttle service for those who didn't find what they were looking for at the society - straight to a property project in Fanling.

Herman Wong Kwok-keung, the Tsing Yi sales manager for Centaline, said some of the secondhand Home Ownership Scheme flats were cheaper than the Greenview Villa apartments.

Those who can't get into Greenview Villa will be able to afford new flats further out, in Fanling or Yuen Long

Hong Kong Properties chief executive Richard Lee Chi-sing said: "Those who can't get into Greenview Villa will be able to afford new flats further out, in Fanling or Yuen Long."

But most of the buyers would not be swayed, given the prospect of rising interest rates. "I do worry that prices will fall, but I've been so lucky [in the ballot]," said one man, who bought a three-bedroom flat for HK$5 million.

Roy Cheung, 50, was buying a flat for his 18-year-old son. "It wouldn't have been possible without the guarantee of a 90 per cent mortgage," he said.

The society said 97 flats were sold yesterday - meaning 40 per cent of the applicants didn't buy.