Why Hong Kong housing prices won’t come down even if land supply is increased
A recent public poll commissioned by Greenpeace showed that 62 per cent of interviewees don’t believe housing prices will return to affordable levels even if the Hong Kong government finds more land. Among them, half believed that hot money and speculation will continue to push up housing prices.
The survey, based on a random telephone poll of about 1,000 Hong Kong residents aged 18 and over, was carried out by the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong between April 26 and May 4. The poll reflected that 92 per cent of interviewees believe current housing prices have already exceeded affordability. And the key reasons for the skyrocketing prices are speculation and shortage of land.
Greenpeace has criticised the government for its lopsided focus on the lack of land when talking about housing prices. The public poll apparently reflected that speculation is seen as another crucial cause of high property prices. The government has shunned this issue and hasn’t done enough to utilise existing land, such as brownfields, to meet short-term public housing demands.
We have emphasised that the easy choices of reclamation and building on the fringes of country parks, options in the land supply consultation, will cause irreversible loss of our natural assets, and it may even take more than a decade to get land from both these options.
If the government is committed to resolving the housing problem, the focus should be on correcting the historically unjust planning policy, and brownfields should top the list.
Our survey also showed that 70 per cent of interviewees believe “to settle down” means buying a flat. But 75 per cent of them said there’s some sacrifice to be made when purchasing a home in Hong Kong, such as being burdened with long-term mortgage payments and delaying marriage.
The government’s advocacy of “making the pie bigger”, which means increasing land supply, isn’t the solution to the housing problem. The point should be to “make the right pie”, that is, devise a clear public housing timetable and a long-term development blueprint for the city.
Andy Chu, campaigner, Greenpeace