• Mon
  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 8:34am
PropertyHong Kong & China

Cooling measures to cost 10,000 jobs at agencies

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 December, 2013, 2:58am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 December, 2013, 2:58am

Chu Kin-lan has already shuttered six of 11 offices of her real estate agency, Bo Fung Property Agency, and let go half of her 70 employees amid Hong Kong's toughest curbs on home buying in its history. The worst pain may be still to come.

As many as 10,000 agents were forecast to lose their jobs, said Centaline Property Agency, as the government pressed ahead with measures to rein in house prices. Because of the cooling measures, home transactions fell to 27,714 in the first half of the year, the lowest since 1996, according to the Land Registry.

"We're getting killed by the government," said Chu, who has operated Bo Fung in Causeway Bay since 1984 and now sees some of her vacated branches replaced by eateries. "This is by far the worst I've experienced. Almost every agency I know is losing money and closing shops."

The government has raised the minimum mortgage down payment six times since 2010 and imposed taxes including a doubling of the stamp duty on deals of more than HK$2 million in February, plus an extra 15 per cent levy on non-resident buyers.

Prices had only come down about 3 per cent since March, said property broker Savills.

Home transactions would probably drop about a third from 2012 to as low as 52,000 this year, the fewest since 1996, Knight Frank said. The number might fall to 45,000 next year, it said.

"The worst is yet to come," said Angela Wong, an executive director at Midland Holdings. "The pressure on brokers won't go away as long as deal numbers stay at such low levels."

Government officials have repeatedly said the measures would stay in place until a steady supply of new housing is available to homebuyers.

"The government is getting stuck in the middle," said Eddie Hui, a professor in the real estate and construction department at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. "They understand what the agents are going through, but if they don't go hard with the measures, the bubble will burst at some point."

Industry lobby groups have staged street protests and pleaded with lawmakers to pressure the government into withdrawing some of the curbs.

The number of registered individual real estate salesman and agent licence holders fell for a seventh month to 36,075 in November from 37,173 in April.


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This article is now closed to comments

"Industry lobby groups have staged street protests and pleaded with lawmakers to pressure the government into withdrawing some of the curbs."
Quite simply, nobody cares. Find work elsewhere. There's plenty of jobs going.
Are we supposed to feel sorry for these parasites who have driven up the prices of apartments to a level beyond the means of ordinary hong kongers ? They are all so good at Mandarin now why don't they move there to sell property....
They have also squeezed out ordinary businesses from the streets. In Tin Hau there are 2 branches of Midland Realty just 5 meters apart with one just having pushed out a long standing snack bar earlier this year.
HK unemployment is 3% and there is a lack of skilled people in other areas of the economy and the agents are not very highly paid anyway. Most of the 10,000 will find other jobs easily and maybe even a better career path. The owners of the agencies should have built up a cash bank when times were good and can see out this downturn and get back into the game later.
Whenever I have a guest come from another country they always comment on how many property agencies there are. Sometimes whole streets are agents with the same agency represented 2-3 times. Thus they were way to numerous anyway.
It will be good to see some close down and restaurants come back into those places (agents kicked them out when times were good). Also with agents closing I see more mom and pop places coming in.
I still think there are way to may agencies. Maybe the reduction needs to be around 50% to bring back some normalcy.
this agency protests is totally useless which should be completely ignored by the government and they should be punished if they protest as they have and are earning a lot by looting the public. they help the owners and landlords to overcharge rents and purchase prices. such agencies should shut down and the government should be the property agent.
To all the property brokers in Hong Kong:
Among many of you who has graduated from the best schools in Hong Kong has had a great time making a good living by working laboriously showing flats. Time has changed. The wheel of fortune makes a turn that has affected your line of work. That force of change is really greater than an individual or a group can do anything about. That force is about bringing affordable housing to people who need housing while may be setting rules to achieve it is a novelty idea in Hong Kong but it is only catching on with the rest of the world. Hong Kong shouldn’t be of any exception? Responsible government really has no alternative.
For the 30,000 strong who work in the property, I advise you to make some resolution while you are still young in adapting to work in a field where public can benefit and hence appreciate. It will be a big change for you but it will be good both for your soul and your depleting bank account.
I can’t be more enthusiastic than recommending property brokers to become organic farmers. While there is great demand for healthy food, toiling by converting otherwise wastelands into productive lands in the NT is really catching two birds in one hand. Instead feverishly to justify your old existing I can assure you that you will find being a farmer is noble and most rewarding personally and beyond. Only if I am younger, I will take my own advice too.


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