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Weekend Property

Homes you can buy for a million US dollars in Hong Kong, London and Singapore

In the second in our two-part series looking at what US$1 million might buy in six of the world’s major commercial cities, we put Hong Kong, London and Singapore under the spotlight

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 June, 2017, 9:32am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 June, 2017, 2:12pm

HONG KONG

This year, Hong Kong home prices soared to a new record high, with buyers apparently undeterred by successive interest rate rises and the fact that, according to the latest annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, the city has the most expensive housing in the world.

Some may be pinning their hopes on a market softening later this year, as recently forecast by several analysts. But for now, what US$1 million would buy you in Hong Kong is not much at all.

Sue Jong, chief of operations for Juwai.com, a Chinese international property portal, says: “In Hong Kong, you can buy a new apartment for as little as US$613,000, but the apartment is only 169 sq ft. That’s smaller than a typical parking space in the US, which is about 171 sq ft. If you want at least a modicum of living space for that price, you need to look at second-hand apartments that don’t offer much glamour – apart from their location in one of the most exciting cities in Asia.”

For a US$1 million spend, expect a small, second-hand apartment in a decent location, but with a tired bathroom and kitchen, very little living space and unappealing views of neighbouring buildings, Jong says.

One example at that price point is a 395 sq ft two-bedroom, one-bathroom high rise apartment for sale atop a McDonald’s in Kennedy Town, which has the added bonus of a 400 sq ft rooftop.

“The location in Sai Wan is just a quick walk to the tram and the ultramodern MTR train line that connects [to] the most popular parts of Hong Kong and the airport,” Jong says. “It’s also just four stops to the financial and business district of Central.”

“This property, from agents OKAY.com, is a perfect example of the Hong Kong market. It is in the building called Man Kwong Court at 12 Smithfield, Kennedy Town.”

LONDON

London ranks fourth on Knight Frank’s relative value scale, yet compared to Hong Kong, says Mandy Wong, head of international residential property services at JLL Hong Kong, London is still “relatively affordable”.

“For US$1 million, you will still be able to buy into newbuilds in prime Central London zone 1 areas, [such as] a decent size studio or one-bedroom apartment around 400-500 sq ft in The Atlas on City Road,” she says.

For US$1 million you will still be able to buy into new builds in prime Central London
Mandy Wong, JLL Hong Kong

The same money would buy a much larger unit in East London – for example, a two-bedroom unit of around 800 sq ft with clubhouse in London City Island – close to Canary Wharf and within short travel time to Central London and West London. “The new Crossrail will be available by 2019 which connects the east and the west, and this offers the best opportunity for buyers to look into some good potential in East London,” Wong says.

In Shoreditch Exchange, a new scheme located in the borough of Hackney, US$1 million would buy a one-bedroom unit of 660 sq ft, on a high floor with good views, fully fitted with bespoke interior design. Clubhouse facilities include landscaped outdoor space – courtyard podium and roof terraces – a fitness centre, cinema screening room and club lounge.

The property is set against a backdrop of renovated warehouses now home to a vast mix of independent retailers, reclaimed vintage stores, artisan coffee shops and high-end restaurants, Wong says.

SINGAPORE

In the first quarter of this year, Singapore’s private residential property prices declined for the 14th consecutive quarter. According to Tricia Song, director and head of research at Colliers International in Singapore, overall prices have fallen by 11.6 per cent from the most recent peak in Q3 2013, but are still 43.4 per cent above the Q2 2009 trough.

However, the fact that prices in the non-landed segment were flat – compared to decreasing by 0.8 per cent in the fourth querter of 2016 – is taken as a sign of prices bottoming out, Song says. Singapore homes are more affordable now, she adds.

“With a budget of US$1 million, you can realistically afford a new condo within a 3-4km radius from core CBD [central business district] and prime Orchard Road, of around 700 sq ft with two bedrooms. You could also get a new and bigger condo on the fringe of city.”

The building would likely have full condo facilities with swimming pool, barbecue pits, gym, an exercise area, children’s playground and clubhouse, Song continues. But it would barely get you a landed property – possibly a much older one or a terraced house (not a detached house or a bungalow) in the far suburbs such as Loyang, Changi, and Jurong West, more than 20km away from the city centre.

One example is a fifth-floor duplex unit at Kovan Grandeur, 118 Tampines Road, which has three bedrooms and a total size of 1,389 sq ft and full condo facilities including pools. Completed in 2012, the five-storey building comprises 74 units in total, on a 99-year leasehold (with effect from 2010). It is located in the northeastern part of Singapore in District 19, about 12km from core city centre, and 0.81km from Kovan MRT station.