More than 60 per cent of private housing started last year comprises units of less than 429 square feet saleable area, reflecting a shift towards smaller flats.
According to the Hong Kong Monthly Digest of Statistics, 26,990 units in the smallest-sized category were approved for construction last year. This accounted for 60.9 per cent of the total 44,323 housing starts, compared with a ratio of 56.8 per cent for 1998 and 55.7 per cent for 1997.
Last year, the number of private housing starts in the smallest-sized category rose 40.4 per cent from 1998's 19,218 and 18.3 per cent from 1997's 22,813.
Analysts believe the shift by developers from larger to smaller flats was caused by the financial crisis and economic recession. Developers sought to build smaller units to entice potential buyers with smaller budgets to enter the market, they said.
Private housing starts for units measuring 430 to 752 sq ft reached 14,451 last year, accounting for 32.6 per cent of the total.
This compared with 11,303 units in 1998 and 14,182 in 1997. The number of consents for larger-sized flats decreased last year. Starts for units measuring 753 to 1,075 sq ft fell to 783 last year, down from 1,087 in 1998 and 2,154 in 1997. Starts for units of 1,076 to 1,721 sq ft numbered 361 last year, compared with 687 in 1998 and 279 in 1997.
For units measuring 1,722 sq ft and above, starts amounted to 1,738 last year, slightly up from the previous two years.
There were 33,180 private flats completed last year, compared with 19,489 a year earlier and 15,886 in 1997, according to government figures. About 59.7 per cent of the total completions, or 19,794 units, were in the smallest-sized category of less than 429 sq ft.
Completions of units measuring 430 sq ft to 752 sq ft last year increased to 10,383 units, accounting for 31.3 per cent of the total.
There were 1,058 units measuring 753 to 1,075 sq ft completed last year, representing 3.2 per cent of the total supply. Completions for units of 1,076 to 1,721 sq ft were 309 while those for units 1,722 sq ft and above were 1,636.
Geographically, there were 3,029 newly completed private sector flats on Hong Kong Island last year, 9.1 per cent of the total.
In Kowloon and New Kowloon, 3,590 units, or 10.8 per cent, were completed. Last year in Tsuen Wan and Kwai Tsing, 1,116 units were completed.
There were 4,634 units completed in Sha Tin, 1,338 in Tuen Mun, 445 in Tai Po and 3,098 in Fanling and Sheung Shui.
The remainder of the New Territories produced 15,930 units during the year, 48 per cent of the total.