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Central business and commercial district is quiet under work from home (WFH) arrangement and tightened social-distancing rules amidst the fifth wave of coronavirus outbreak on 21 February 2022. Photo: Nora Tam

Omicron: Cantopop star Joey Yung sells Hong Kong flat at a loss, leading an exodus from property market amid city’s Covid-19 surge

  • 2.5 per cent of 1,018 lived-in homes sold last year at a loss, higher than the 2 per cent in 2020, according to data compiled by Ricacorp Properties
  • In Tung Chung, Tuen Mun and Yuen Long, both local and expatriate owners have sold their property holdings at losses

Canto pop star Joey Yung has sold her flat in Causeway Bay at a loss of about HK$1.1 million (US$140,966), according to sources familiar with the deal, joining a wave of Hongkongers selling their homes for a loss as they flee the city’s worsening Covid-19 situation.

The one-bedroom 465 sq ft flat at Park Haven, which was held by a company jointly owned by Yung and her mother, sold for HK$10.25 million, the sources said. The selling price was 9.7 per cent below the HK$11.35 million paid for it in 2012.

Yung’s assets and investments are all overseen and managed by her mother, so she is not fully aware of the details, her publicist at Emperor Entertainment Group said in a response to a query by the Post.

About 2.5 per cent of Hong Kong’s 1,018 transactions involving lived-in homes last year recorded a net loss, 50 basis points higher than the 2 per cent recorded in 2020, according to data compiled by Ricacorp Properties. And this trend is continuing, with the city’s resurgent Covid-19 outbreak setting daily infection records for more than two consecutive weeks now.

The Park Haven apartments in Causeway Bay. Photo: Google

A flat measuring 741 sq ft at The Visionary in Tung Chung sold last week for HK$9.57 million, 1.6 per cent more than its purchase price of HK$9.42 million four years ago, resulting in a HK$310,000 net loss for the expatriate seller after the fees and commissions are added up, said Midland Realty’s area sales manager Johnny Huang.

“This was the first time in over two years that I have seen expatriates leaving Hong Kong so desperately,” Huang said. “They wanted to return to their home countries”, believing that they could get jobs at home as they find Hong Kong increasingly cut off, he said.

Tung Chung Crescent flats at Tung Chung. Photo: KY Cheng

The story is being repeated in Tung Chung and districts further out from central Hong Kong, like Tuen Mun and Yuen Long. Owners, both locals and expatriates, are offloading their property holdings at losses amid the absence of new arrivals in the city.

Last week, a 362 sq ft flat at The Sherwood in Tuen Mun changed hands for HK$5.13 million, a slight discount to its purchase price of HK$5.22 million in 2018.

At the Park Royale project in Yuen Long in the New Territories, a 489 sq ft unit sold for HK$5.75 million, less than the seller’s purchase price of HK$5.8 million, resulting in a net loss of about HK$300,000.

The Visionary flats in Tung Chung. Photo: Handout

A 582 sq ft flat at Tung Chung Crescent, located next to the Tung Chung MTR station, changed hands for HK$7.3 million, a 4 per cent discount from its September 2018 purchase price of HK$7.6 million, leaving the seller with a HK$650,000 net loss.

Hong Kong, in its pursuit of a dynamic zero-Covid policy, has some of the toughest social-distancing and quarantine policies in the world, requiring up to 21 days of isolation at government facilities and hotels for returning residents. Non-residents are banned from 150 worldwide destinations deemed high-risk, while flights from eight countries including the United States, the UK and Canada were suspended last month to stop the Omicron variant of Covid-19 at the city’s borders.

That has exacerbated the wave of emigration from a city that had only just recently crawled out of its worst recession on record, leading to desperate sales in the market. The average home price in Tung Chung, favoured by airline crew due to its proximity and easy access to the city’s airport, fell 4.9 per cent in January to HK$13,423 per square foot from December, according to Centaline Property Agency.

Park Royale flats in Yuen Long. Photo: Handout

“In a market where sales have plunged by half, owners who suffer from financial trouble have to dump their flats at big discounts to speed up sales,” said Perry Fong, a senior director at Centaline Property’s branches in Tuen Mun, Tin Shui Wai and Yuen Long.

Under a current regulation to curb speculation, a special stamp duty of up to 15 per cent of the selling price will be waived if owners resell their property after three years from the date of their purchases.

“Home prices have eased a bit due to an escalated Covid-19 pandemic and more families planning for emigration,” said Ricacorp’s research head Derek Chan. “The market condition will reverse once the border with mainland China reopens.”