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Hong Kong housing

‘Outlandish’: 88,000 applicants for 620 Hong Kong subsidised flats

Industry experts say trend is ‘worrying’ in world’s priciest property market

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 November, 2017, 7:49pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 November, 2017, 10:54am

About 88,000 Hong Kong families had applied for 620 subsidised homes, a record of 141 applicants competing for each flat, housing authorities said on Monday as the city’s overall property prices continued to soar.

By the 7pm deadline, applications for two discounted housing projects – Mount Verdant in Tseung Kwan O and Terrace Concerto in Tuen Mun – were oversubscribed by about 141 times, a record high since sales of subsidised housing resumed in 2013.

The construction of subsidised housing was suspended in 2002 to boost property prices amid a market downturn.

The current flats, sold at 30 per cent below market rate, are developed by the Housing Society, a non-profit organisation and Hong Kong’s second-largest public housing provider.

Housing Society chairman Marco Wu Moon-hoi described the imbalance between supply and demand as “serious” and “very worrying”. He called on society to reach a consensus as soon as possible to seek more land.

“The Housing Society has the resources and capacity to build more [subsidised housing], but without land we cannot do this,” Wu said. “Our next batch will not be introduced until three years later.”

Many applicants of subsidised housing are unable to afford private housing and they comprise young adults looking to move out of their parents’ homes, newlyweds, or young married couples with babies.

The keen competition comes at a time when private housing prices have increased for the 18th consecutive month in September.

At a new private housing estate in Sai Ying Pun developed by New World, prices for a 200 sq ft flat range from HK$7.3 million to HK$10 million.

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“Private housing is too expensive,” Lam Wing-leung, 30, one of the applicants for subsidised housing, said.

Lam’s wife gave birth to their son nine months ago and they are living with his parents and brother in a 450 sq ft public housing flat in Tai Po.

“We want to have our own private space,” he said.

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Lam, a salesman and the family’s breadwinner, said he earned about HK$30,000 a month and wanted to buy a flat measuring about 400 sq ft.

Having previously applied for subsidised housing, he said the supply for such flats did not match overwhelming demand.

Successful applicants for subsidised housing are selected through a lottery system.

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Flats prices in the two projects range from HK$1.92 million for a one-bedroom home in Tuen Mun to HK$6.23 million for a three-bedroom home in Tseung Kwan O.

The flats in Tuen Mun are priced at an average of about HK$7,000 per square foot, and those in Tseung Kwan O cost HK$8,700 per square foot.

The monthly income limit is HK$26,000 for a one-person application and HK$52,000 for a family of two or more.

Anthony Chiu Kwok-wai, executive director of the Federation of Public Housing Estates, which represents residents in the city, said the oversubscription was “unexpected” and “quite outlandish”.

He said this reflected that Hongkongers were worried property prices would keep rising and that the supply of subsidised housing had fallen behind demand.

Hong Kong’s private home prices have increased by 430 per cent since 2003, making it the world’s most expensive among 406 cities for homebuyers, according to rankings by the US-based Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey.