Hong Kong property

Buyers snap up Sun Hung Kai’s St Martin flats in Tai Po, Victoria Harbour units in North Point

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 July, 2018, 8:08pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 July, 2018, 9:48am

Hong Kong’s buyers made quick work of two real estate projects offered for sale by Sun Hung Kai Properties over the weekend, indicating that rising interest rates and the unfolding US-China trade war are doing little to dampen the city’s housing demand.

Sixty four of the 66 units available at St Martin in Tai Po were sold out as of 6pm on Saturday, according to Midland Realty’s residential chief executive Sammy Po, for a total sales value estimated at HK$720 million.

Up to 300 buyers had submitted bids for the apartments, with sizes from 284 square feet to 837 square feet (78 square metres), averaging HK$18,698 (US$2,382) per square foot after discounts.

Separately, more than 80 potential buyers signed up to bid for 30 units of the same developer’s Victoria Harbour apartment in North Point. Thirteen of the units were sold as of 7:20pm, agents said.

Homebuyers are betting that the city’s property prices, which rose for the 26th straight month in June, will continue their upwards spiral even as the government unveiled a slew of measures to cool the feverish demand in the world’s costliest housing market. The government imposed a vacancy tax and handed out subsidies to first-time buyers and low-income households to help them afford owning their homes.

The tax, announced on June 29, is aimed at developers that hoard completed units to speculate on further gains in home prices, and is meant to force property companies to increase supply to meet rising demand.

Still, the number of registered potential buyers - a barometer of underlying demand - have fallen at both St Martin and Victoria Harbour compared with their previous launches, showing the first signs that the fever in the housing market may be starting to break. Registrations at St Martin fell to 4.5 times, from nearly 6 times a week earlier.

Some of the big banks are already sounding a cautious word about Hong Kong’s housing market. Citibank last week published a forecast that predicted that residential home prices would drop 7 per cent in the second half, as additional housing supply and a lacklustre stock market deter buyers.

At Victoria Harbour, the registration ratio fell to 2.7, from 6.7 a week ago, agents said.

The average price of the North Point project rose 10 per cent from a week earlier to HK$40,466 per sq ft. The 30 flats measure between 286 square feet to 524 square feet, costing as much as HK$23.3 million per unit.

Sun Hung Kai’s latest sales follow the previous weekend’s successful transactions, where it sold 165 St Martin units for HK$1.15 billion, and 44 Victoria Harbour units for HK$600 million.

Shares of the developer added 0.7 per cent to HK$117 in Hong Kong on Friday, trimming its loss to 10 per cent this year. The stock underperformed the benchmark Hang Seng Index that declined 5.7 per cent in 2018.