Lots were drawn on Monday to decide who will be eligible to buy second-hand Home Ownership Scheme flats without a premium.
The Housing Authority's revised scheme will enable low- to middle-income families to buy the subsidised flats.The authority was swamped last month with 66,000 applications for just 5,000 flats. Of those, 23,400 families are vying for 4,500; and 42,600 single people for 500.
After yesterday's ballot, the first batch of 2,500 approval letters - 2,250 for families and 250 for single people - will be issued in late May. The second batch will go out at the end of December. Successful applicants will be able to start looking at second-hand HOS flats on the market within six weeks after they obtain a certificate confirming they are eligible to buy one of them.
In the ballot, the last two digits - 00 to 99 - of the application numbers were drawn. They were then prioritised in a random computer draw.
Families whose number was one of the first 20 drawn can consider themselves successful. Single people will be successful if their number is 59, the first number drawn, and will have a slim chance if theirs is 68, the second number drawn.
The revised scheme gives low- and middle-income buyers who do not receive a housing subsidy the opportunity to buy homes at a reduced rate. Applications for the scheme were accepted last month. It is open to households with monthly incomes of up to HK$40,000 and assets worth up to HK$830,000. The caps for single buyers are half those figures.
Stanley Wong Yuen-fai, chairman of the authority's subsidised housing committee, said applicants who withdrew would not be replaced, but he believed most of them would not pull out. "The demand is keen and so I believe there is a low chance the successful applicants won't follow through with their Certificate of Eligibility Purchase," he said. He did not believe the scheme had pushed up housing prices and said it may be run again next year.
But Fred Li Wah-ming, of the Long-Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee, said the waived premium would have less effect as the scheme had dragged on too long. "It has been over six months from the initial idea to the implementation … the savings won't catch up with the price surge in HOS flats," he said.
Ron Yeung Man-kit, of Centaline Property, said it would be difficult for those eligible to find flats as there were fewer around. A 520 sq ft second-hand HOS two-bedroom flat in Quarry Bay costs about HK$5 million, and HK$3.5 million without the premium.