Hong Kong’s property prices will not always go up

Hong Kong is in the middle of one of the most sustained real estate bull runs in the city’s history. But eventually gravity asserts itself. This time will not be any different

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 July, 2018, 5:33am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 July, 2018, 5:33am

Property prices do not always go up, not even in Hong Kong.

It may look that way when we are all caught up in the middle of one of the most sustained real estate bull runs in the city’s history.

But eventually gravity asserts itself. This time will not be any different.

So, the (rhetorical) question is, should you pay HK$3.2 million, or HK$21,333 per square foot for a 30-year-old, 150 sq ft unit with no bedroom that was previously a public housing flat at Cheung On Estate in Tsing Yi?

This price, at the moment, is not an anomaly, but pretty much standard.

It’s not for nothing that our city has the most unaffordable real estate in the world.

Last month, a 27-year-old, 147 sq ft unit at Fung Tak Estate in Wong Tai Sin changed hands for HK$2.78 million.

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And in the first half of this year, there have been 160 deals involving former public housing flats, with each costing more than HK$3 million.

My guess is, if you have to buy such flats, you are not a high earner or otherwise financially secure. Why bother to buy such obviously inflated properties?

They are for people who have been priced out of the private market yet want to own their own homes.

The median price of homes has been rising for 26 consecutive months, with no sign of slowing down.

People are worried if they don’t jump in now, their dream of home ownership will be forever out of reach.

If you are hoping to offload your inflated property to someone even more foolish than yourself, then by all means, good luck with your speculation.

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But if you are planning to live in that 147 sq ft shoebox for the long haul, then you are making yourself the last and by definition, greatest fool.

You will feel sorry when the market falls under your feet.

Politicians and governments around the world like to promote home ownership as a force for social stability.

But Hong Kong has proved home aspiration can become a source of social discontent and malaise, for young people and the middle class.

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All those spicy measures set up by the government have failed to cool the market.

They have served as no more than a signpost that prices are going crazy.

New ones now being discussed will not prove any more effective.

Put your trust in gravity, not the government.