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Paggie Leung

A total of 376 industrial properties in Tsuen Wan were sold in July, according to commercial real estate agency Ricacorp (CIR) Properties, up 89 per cent from the 199 transactions in May and 80 per cent higher than the 208 sales in June.

China Overseas Land & Investment, the Hong Kong-listed mainland developer, raised its annual sales target by a fifth yesterday as it announced the possible injection of its parent company's real estate businesses into the firm.

HKR International, the developer of Discovery Bay, teamed up with Nan Fung Development to outbid 10 other developers and acquire a site in Sha Tin's Kau To for HK$1.22 billion, or HK$9,071 per square foot, at the lower end of market expectations.

Billionaire Li Ka-shing's Cheung Kong (Holdings) has agreed to sell its shopping mall in Tin Shui Wai for about HK$5.85 billion, a move which analysts say aims to boost earnings affected by the government's housing policies.

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The survey, conducted by property consultancy Colliers International, polled companies predominantly based in Europe with more than 1,000 staff. It also found that Asia was seen as the best place for enterprises to expand their business in the next two years.

Under the brand "Office Plus", the privately run developer will offer about 250 offices for lease by the end of this year for small companies, at monthly rents ranging from HK$9,000 to HK$55,000.

Hutchison Whampoa, the flagship conglomerate controlled by Li Ka-shing, is expected to report an increase in first-half net profit this week of about 7 per cent, analysts say.

Land prices on the mainland may continue to set new highs despite government cooling measures, property analysts said after Beijing sold a luxury residential site for a record price this week.

Latest research by Centaline Property Agency, which tracks newly signed leasing contracts at 85 large private housing estates, revealed that average monthly rents decreased by 0.4 per cent from May to HK$22.40 per square foot of gross floor area in June - the lowest level seen in the past seven months.

The most common question is whether now is the best time to buy a flat, but a 29-year-old man asked me recently whether he should spend his HK$1 million in savings on buying a home or starting up a new business.

China has been ranked as the second-wealthiest country in built assets and it is set to surpass the United States by next year, according to the latest research.

Analysts named four mainland-listed developers - Shanghai Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone Development, Shanghai Lujiazui Finance & Trade Zone Development, Shanghai Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park Development and Shanghai Jinqiao Export Processing Zone Development - as the biggest winners after the free-trade zone was announced on July 3.

Home prices could fall as much as 45 per cent over the next three to five years amid higher property taxes, rising interest rates and a bleak outlook for commercial property, says one real estate agent.

Small lump-sum prices and hopes of high investment returns continue to lure Hong Kong investors into buying subdivided units at mainland shopping malls, despite their poor record.

Fortune Real Estate Investment Trust is looking to acquire shopping malls while its gearing and interest rates remain low, the reit's manager said yesterday.

Hong Kong Education International, which runs tuition schools, announced its plan to buy a 47 per cent stake in tertiary education service provider Seasoned Leader for HK$47 million.

New World Development's latest residential project in Yuen Long will test buying sentiment in the mid-range market in the New Territories amid subdued demand as a result of the government's cooling measures.

Bank of China (Hong Kong) has from today raised its rate under the scheme to 2.65 per cent per annum from 2.4 per cent for borrowers opting to lock in their interest rate for the first five years of their loan.

Estate agent Angel Law, who heads the new luxury residential department at property consultancy Knight Frank, believes knowledge of global property markets is essential for her team to survive in the local sector, which has been hit by the government's cooling measures.

A developer from Seychelles, the island nation where Prince William and his wife, Kate, spent their honeymoon, hopes to lure Hong Kong and mainland property investors into buying homes on the tropical island located off the east coast of Africa.

The government has little chance of meeting its target of selling enough residential sites to yield 13,600 new flats this financial year, analysts say.

The recent cash crunch on the mainland may have caused some banks to slash discounts on home mortgage rates, but market watchers believe the impact on the nation's property market will be minimal.

Chinachem bought the 283,115 square foot site near Evangel College for HK$3 billion, or HK$3,653 per square foot. The 10 sites sold in the area since 2010 ranged in price from HK$3,810 to HK$4,917 per sq ft.

It is quite common for Hongkongers to want to move out of their parents' homes for more space, if not more freedom, after working for a few years. "Space is definitely a problem," a female friend, who graduated from university almost five years ago, complained recently

The commercial tower at 60 Gloucester Road has 27 floors and a basement, with a total gross floor area of about 95,557 square feet. The price works out to HK$16,618 per square foot.

"Asking prices of public housing flats have surged by 30 to 50 per cent in the last two months," Fullmark Property Agency sales manager Kim Chan Shek-kam said. "Sellers are setting prices as if they want to try their luck by winning the Mark Six jackpot, despite the fact they can hardly find any buyers at those prices."

The hotel trust, NW Hotel Investments - which includes the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, the Renaissance Harbour View Hotel and the Hyatt Regency Hong Kong, Tsim Sha Tsui - had a valuation of HK$21.4 billion on March 31, a prelisting document said.

The plan for the Hong Kong conglomerate The Wharf (Holdings) to have half of its total assets on the mainland may not be achievable in the near future, the company's chairman warned shareholders.

The Link Real Estate Investment Trust is paving the way to sell some of its assets by evaluating its portfolio, including shopping centres and car parks in public housing estates.

Data from the Land Registry yesterday showed it received 5,288 property sale and purchase agreements for registration, 20.5 per cent more than in April. Year on year, the figure fell 54 per cent.

The 83,033 sq ft site at the junction of Fat Kwong and Sheung Foo streets could fetch between HK$3.8 billion and HK$4.38 billion, according to four surveying firms polled by the South China Morning Post.

The comment came a day after tenders for the first two sites offered under the "Hong Kong property for Hong Kong people" scheme, at Kai Tak, drew a strong response from developers, with 29 bids.

The law, which was approved by the Macau Legislative Assembly on May 21, aims to protect buyers by imposing conditions on the sale of unfinished flats and regulating sales procedures.

Home prices might have fallen slightly as a result of government measures to cool down the property market three months ago, but will they go on to decline as dramatically as some analysts have predicted?

Mainland conglomerate Fosun International and Paris-based AXA Private Equity are planning to take over French holiday resort company Club Méditerranée for about US$700 million.

Mainland developers recorded higher debt ratios and falling net profit last year amid stringent controls on the housing market, a survey has found. The research, which surveyed 184 mainland developers, all listed in Hong Kong, Shanghai or Shenzhen, was conducted by the China Real Estate Research Association, China Real Estate Association and China Real Estate Appraisal.

Logistic properties - which include mainly grade-A warehouse facilities - currently offer high and stable rental yields as growing demand is outstripping supply, a Colliers International report says.

The flats at The Reach were offered at HK$10,086 per square foot of saleable area, meaning the firms are asking from HK$3.55 million to HK$8.19 million per flat, as their saleable area ranges from 355 sq ft to 659 sq ft.

Data from Ricacorp Properties showed that for the week ended May 12, 176 second-hand flats were sold in the 50 largest private housing estates it monitors, up 24 per cent from 142 sales the previous week.

Fifty-one retail brands set up shop in the city, according to a study by CBRE Global Research & Consulting, which monitored more than 300 new retail openings across Asia-Pacific in 2012.

The Residential Properties (First-hand Sales) Ordinance, aimed at shielding buyers from dishonest sales practices, came into force on Monday and will affect the launch of new flats in the short term, say property analysts.

Goldman Sachs' head of real estate investment banking for Asia excluding Japan, Michael Smith, said low interest rates, a strong commercial property market and capital flows were the three factors that had made the reit market more attractive.

The government will put two residential land sites - one in Tseung Kwan O and another on Lantau Island - up for sale next month in a tender that is expected to fetch a total of up to HK$4.14 billion.

Hong Kong's secondary home market remained quiet last week and sales are likely to slow further until the implementation of a new law on sales practices that will take effect on Monday.

Hong Kong home prices will fall by as much as a quarter as a result of the government's stepped-up measures to cool the housing market and rises in bank mortgage rates, equity research firm Sanford C. Bernstein Hong Kong forecast.

On February 22 the government announced new measures, including a doubling of stamp duty for homes and non-residential properties valued at more than HK$2 million, and requiring buyers of non-residential properties to pay stamp duty earlier.

The flow of shoppers from Shenzhen to Hong Kong is slowing as more international fast-fashion chains open for business in the border city.

Preliminary figures from the Rating and Valuation Department's "Hong Kong Property Review 2013" report shows that 15,820 new flats will go on the market next year, 16.8 per cent more than this year's expected total of 13,550 units.

The government's cooling measures "have created a severe situation for sellers", Centaline Property managing director Louis Chan Wing-kit said. "Some have waited for up to 40 days to clinch a deal, so now they feel they need to lower prices."

Sun Hung Kai Properties won a luxury residential site at Kau To Shan in Sha Tin, paying a higher-than-expected HK$1.42 billion. It's a sign the appetite of big developers for high-end sites has not been curbed by the government's market-cooling measures.

Sales of secondary homes in Shanghai may hit a record high this month as sellers rush to avoid having to pay the 20 per cent capital gains tax flagged by the government earlier this month.

Q: I planned to buy a flat. I heard that buyers have to face a tougher stress test under the new cooling measures released by the government. I'm wondering how it affects my purchase plan.

This represents a significant increase in the company's residential sales on the mainland, which were close to two billion yuan last year, despite the central government maintaining a tight grip on the housing market.

The first two residential sites in the "Hong Kong Property for Hong Kong People" scheme are expected to attract keen bids from developers when they go on sale in Kai Tak next week.

Q:I have saved about HK$500,000. I want to use it for the down payment for a mortgage on my first home. Where can I find properties priced slightly over HK$2 million? What are the options?

Property agency Midland said the number of real estate agents and branches might drop by nearly one-third if the government kept its tight grip on the housing market.

Hong Kong is likely to face a shortage of around 4 million to more than 8 million square feet of office space by 2020, a global property consultancy has warned.

The district is now undergoing some changes, with the site of the Valley Road Estate site sold to Sun Hung Kai Properties for HK$12,000 per buildable square foot in 2010, and that of the Ho Man Tin Estate on Sheung Lok Street open for tenders, Cheung said. Redevelopment of both these sites will provide more private flats.

Q: My employer pays me a monthly rental allowance of over HK$10,000 and I am entitled to this for two more years. I have been using it to rent an apartment, but as property prices keep climbing, I am thinking about buying. Should I give up the rental allowance now or wait till later?

The State Council on Friday released guidelines instructing local governments to strictly follow policies introduced to cool the mainland's housing market.

Twenty-three of the 28 residential sites added to this year's land-sale list will not be ready for sale until next year, raising concerns that the government is running out of stock for immediate land supply.

The subsidiary of Henderson Land Development said yesterday that it would put the Green Code project on the market next month after obtaining sales consent from the government, which it expects shortly.

As a measure of speculative deals in the sector, data from property broker Midland IC&I show that 1,276 confirmor sales were transacted in the industrial property market last year. Confirmor sales are deals in which a property is resold before the original transaction is completed.

The Lands Department has threatened to take legal action if it finds buyers of Cheung Kong's controversial hotel project living in the units. The warning came as 95 per cent of the investors in the 360-room Apex Horizon hotel had signed, or arranged to sign, the sales contract yesterday, according to the property giant. The rest have asked for a postponement.

Rents will rise at a faster pace in the second half of this year as demand for rental accommodation increases as a result of homebuyers hold off on making purchases while they digest the impact of the latest round of measures aimed at curbing property speculation, agents say.

About 80 per cent of the buyers in Cheung Kong's controversial hotel development in Kwai Chung have confirmed their deals, even though the contract terms have been deemed "one-sided" by some lawyers. This emerged as the government was studying the legality of the sales, under which buyers can avoid stamp duties introduced to cool the property market.

Developers hoping to complete sales programmes looked for ways to fight the impact of sharp increases in stamp duties. They increased the commission for agents - some of whom were passing on the increase to buyers to make up for the extra duty they will pay.

A day after Henderson Land Development chairman Lee Shau-kee confirmed he was in talks with the government about donating land for cheap homes, New World Development chairman Henry Cheng Kar-shun said his company was willing to consider doing the same.

Real estate agents staged a last-minute flat sales push to beat a midnight deadline for the introduction of a new set of measures aimed at cooling down Hong Kong's red-hot property market.

Property tycoon Lee Shau-kee is considering donating farmland to the government to use for affordable housing, his company confirmed yesterday. Henderson Land Development, one of the city's largest developers, said it had been in talks with the government about the plan, but it gave no details of the location, size or number of pieces of land Lee would donate.

Buyers of units in the Apex Horizon hotel may risk financial burdens despite avoiding stamp duties by making the controversial purchase, property experts warn. This week property giant Cheung Kong sold 360 units at the hotel in Kwai Chung, which opened in 2009. The units are classified as commercial properties so buyers escape the extra stamp duties imposed on residential property transactions last year. In October the government imposed a buyer's stamp duty of 15 per cent of the purchase price of homes, payable by all non-permanent-resident buyers and those buying houses or flats through companies, in addition to the standard stamp duty of up to 4.25 per cent.

Tenders will close today for the 196,248 sq ft site near the Tin Wing light-rail station. According to the MTR Corp, the site can yield a total gross floor area of about 979,500 sq ft, of which more than 99 per cent will be designated for building about 1,600 flats.

The harbourfront hotel site in North Point and the luxury residential site in Kau To, Sha Tin, were opened for tender yesterday. The tender period will close on March 22.

Sun Hung Kai Properties, which launched Residence 88 in Yuen Long on Wednesday, said the project attracted a keen response. The developer expected about 100 flats to be sold by the end of the night.

"The European and US markets seem to be more stable than last year, while there are signs that the mainland economic growth is accelerating," Tsang said on his blog on Sunday. "Hong Kong's economy will improve slightly from the Year of the Dragon."

At US$4,335 per square foot a year in the fourth quarter last year, the average rent for a prime shop was well above second-placed New York, where rents were 46 per cent lower at US$2,970. London came in third at US$1,080 per sq ft.

Sammy Po Siu-ming, a director of real estate agency Midland Realty, said that after the strong sales performance in January he expected developers to become more aggressive with launches of new flats during the Lunar New Year holiday.

The Lands Department said Wheelock outbid eight developers and acquired the site for HK$3,683 per square foot. The price is in line with market expectations, which ranged between HK$1.13 billion and HK$1.5 billion.

Property agents have revealed that the bank started looking for tenants a few months ago to occupy more than 60,000 square feet, or three floors of vacant office space at the International Commerce Centre (ICC) in West Kowloon.