Hong Kong housing

Downpour fails to douse city’s housing fever as two developers post near-complete sales

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 July, 2018, 10:28pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 July, 2018, 11:06pm

A tropical monsoon packing wind gusts of 70km/h (43.5mph) failed to douse Hong Kong’s feverish demand for housing, with two developers reporting overwhelming response to their latest weekend property sales.

Far East Consortium said it sold 106 of the 112 units on offer at The Garrison apartment complex in Sha Tin as of 8:30pm, while agents said Sun Hung Kai had sold more than 100 units of the second phase of it St Martin project in Tai Po.

The near-complete sale of the two projects, coming a week after a government-imposed vacancy tax took effect, shows that the latest measure - aimed at forcing developers to release more housing property into the market to meet demand - has not slowed the advances in property prices, which rose for the 26th consecutive month in June.

“In theory, the price increase of flats should slow down a bit after the vacancy tax policy compared to the first quarter,” said Centaline Property Agency’s Asia-Pacific vice-chairman of the residential division Louis Chan Wing-kit. “The trading volume will largely remain high no matter how the policy changes.”

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor levied on June 29 a vacancy tax on developers who were hoarding completed units, and offered subsidies to allow more first-time buyers and low-income households to afford public housing, answering a plea for help by city residents desperate to afford owning residential property.

Despite a string of cooling measures by the government, Hong Kong was judged the world’s least affordable housing market by US planning consultancy Demographia for the eighth successive year in January.

Units at ST Martin, with measurements of between 284 square feet and 837 sq ft, were offered at HK$6.01 million to HK$20.2 million (US$2.57 million). The 640-unit project in Pak Shek Kok, where more than 3,200 new flats will be ready for sale in the coming months, is due for completion in July 2020.

Flats at The Garrison, with sizes ranging from 201 sq ft to 296 sq ft, were being launched at HK$4.69 million to HK$7.09 million. The estimated completion date for the 118-unit The Garrison is scheduled for March 2019

“This situation is basically in line with our expectations,” said Midland’s Chan.