Hutchison

Long queues as Li Ka-shing’s latest Hong Kong housing project sells at 20pc discount

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 April, 2015, 10:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 April, 2015, 1:48pm

The biggest property sale since the latest squeeze on mortgages proved a sell-out as Li Ka-shing's CK Hutchison sold 740 flats at its Hemera project in Tseung Kwan O after offering discounts of 20 per cent.

Prices ranged from about HK$6 million to HK$11.5 million.

At 11am, a queue snaked around Hung Hom MTR station to the Fortune Metropolis building, where an initial batch of 740 flats sitting atop the MTR station at Lohas Park was available on presale. As the number of would-be buyers grew, ushers were deployed to regulate the crowds.

People began lining up at 9.30am, according to a Ricacorp Properties agent. But it was not a case of first come, first served. Potential buyers had to register for a ballot, then it was a case of waiting to see if they got lucky.

By 6pm, the presale had drawn almost 16,000 people and all 740 flats were sold, said a CK Hutchison source, with many reportedly buying two at a time.

Ke Yee Kuen, a middle-aged woman, said: "I want to buy a unit because I have no place of my own. Property prices keep rising."

Sharma Bharat, an Indian who has lived in Hong Kong for more than seven years, said he and his family wanted to own their home. "Prices are within our range. This will be our first home; we are now renting," he said.

Under the tighter mortgage regulations, bigger down payments are required, but Sharma said he was comfortable putting down 30 to 40 per cent for a 700 sq ft flat costing up to HK$7 million.

Another would-be buyer said her family was attracted to Hemera - named after the Greek goddess of daytime - by both the price and its convenient location.

"Mortgage rules may be tougher, but we have sold our old home and we don't have a home now," she said.

Sammy Po, residential chief executive officer of Midland Realty, estimated the sale drew about 15,800 people. "The sales were very good," he said, adding the discounts had been the key.

Hemera is being built by CK Hutchison Holdings, the property company controlled by Li, and the first flats are due to be completed in December.

The crowds came despite mortgage-tightening measures implemented by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority in February, which capped loans at 60 per cent, rather than 70 per cent, for flats under HK$7 million.

The authority also stipulated that the maximum debt-service ratio - the amount borrowers repay each month as a percentage of their income - should be applied not just to their mortgage loans under application but to their total liabilities.

However, AMTD, a Hong Kong financial firm, is offering buyers of Hemera flats additional loans that would enable them to have 80 per cent mortgages. Such an offer was not against the law, insisted an AMTD executive who declined to be named.

"This property is cheaper than other places. That's why so many people lined up," he said.

A unit at Hemera typically costs about HK$8,000 to HK$9,000 per square foot, while similar secondhand properties cost HK$10,000 to HK$11,000 per sq ft, the AMTD executive estimated.