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Hong Kong property

Here’s how Hong Kong housing could see the return of a buyer’s market

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 May, 2018, 9:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 May, 2018, 9:00am

All the talk about easing Hong Kong property prices is focused on land supply. However, surely supply will increase as we leave the unprecedented era of low interest rates? Consider the following. 

As rates rise over the next few years, so will adjustable rate mortgages and, in turn, so will mortgage carrying costs. The shifting dynamics of a mortgage in a rising interest rate environment should draw borrowers’ attention to two key points of concern. 

The first point is that if interest rates increase over the next few years to, say, 7.5 per cent, then the annual carrying cost of a mortgage increases by a massive 70 per cent. The second point is that as interest rates increase, the amount of a monthly payment applied to principal shrinks to only 20 per cent of that payment. In other words, if rates rise to 7.5 per cent, interest expense will consume 80 per cent of a mortgage payment. Debt reduction has now slowed to unsustainable levels. 

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As we know, rates can rise and fall very fast. As household borrowing costs increase, and a fixed-rate teaser period shifts to a floating rate, bank deposits fall and banks’ access to cheap liquidity diminishes – contributing to higher interest rates. 

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Next, borrowers cannot afford their mortgage payments and start selling. The supply of secondary properties increases, depressing prices. Mortgages become higher than the value of the property, further accelerating the desire to sell and increasing supply. 

History repeats itself and it could only be another three to five years before prices crash, making for a real great buyer’s market.

Simon Constantinides, Pok Fu Lam