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Hong Kong housing

Thousands of Hongkongers could be eligible for cheaper homes under Housing Authority proposal

Proposal will be discussed by subsidised housing committee on Thursday

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 November, 2017, 11:34pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 25 November, 2017, 12:50am

Up to 5,000 people a year could be allowed to buy secondhand subsidised flats at a lower price under a Housing Authority proposal to regularise a resale scheme to boost home ownership.

But Stanley Wong Yuen-fai, chairman of the authority’s subsidised housing committee, said on Friday that the government could not guarantee an adequate supply as too few such flats hit the market.

The authority drafted the proposal, to be discussed by the committee next Thursday, after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng ­Yuet-ngor proposed in her policy address last month giving tenants of private premises more opportunities to become homeowners.

Scrapping a land premium would allow eligible buyers to buy secondhand Home Ownership Scheme flats for about 30 per cent less than in the private sector.

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Wong said the committee would first discuss whether the ­resale scheme should be regularised, and then talk about the quota for eligible buyers.

“The document contained two options, one is 3,000 people per year and the other is 5,000.”

He expected the committee to agree to regularise the scheme, as more than 4,000 subsidised flats were sold in the secondary market in three resales in 2013 and 2015.

But Wong said most subsidised flats were occupied by first-hand buyers who showed little intention of selling.

“There are about 2,000 transactions of subsidised units in the secondhand market every year, which is not a large number.

“Whether the number of available flats can meet the quota, we can’t control. Even when there is adequate supply, the flats may not meet the buyers’ requirements, ranging from location to size,” Wong said.

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He said the document for discussion also proposed to allocate 90 per cent of the annual quota for family applicants and 10 per cent for individuals, and to leave the upper limits on income unchanged. The last round in August 2015 set the monthly income limits for household and individual applicants at HK$48,000 and HK$24,000 respectively.

Wilson Or Chong-shing, a pro-government member of the housing panel, said 5,000 flats was not enough and that ensuring a stable supply of second-hand subsidised flats would pose a major problem.