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Hong Kong housing

Applications set to open for first batch of half-priced subsidised flats in Hong Kong – but odds of potential buyers getting one are low

City leader Carrie Lam announced new system in June, resulting in price for 4,431 homes being cut to 50 per cent of market rate

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 September, 2018, 3:10pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 September, 2018, 10:21pm

Hongkongers flocked to get a look at the city’s first batch of half-priced affordable housing on Wednesday, with the cost of flats starting from HK$1.18 million (US$151,300).

Applications for the 4,431 affordable flats, to be sold at half the market rate, open from October 3 to 16. The flats range from 278 sq ft to 631 sq ft, with prices between HK$1.18 million and HK$4.68 million.

They will be in three government-subsidised housing estates – Hoi Lok Court in southwest Kowloon, Kai Long Court in Kai Tak, and Yu Tai Court in Tung Chung.

About 20 people were already queuing up before the Housing Authority’s customer service centre in Lok Fu opened at 8am on Wednesday to collect application forms and look at show flats.

The authority is the city’s largest public-sector housing provider.

“I came because these flats are cheaper than the previous subsidised flats,” 34-year-old housewife Gloria Chau Lei-man said.

“I’ve been living with my husband, my son and my sister. Now my sister’s getting married, we want to move out so we don’t have two families living in the same home.”

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The batch of flats previously opened for applications in March and April, at 30 per cent off the market prices. But Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced a new pricing system for subsidised flats in June which would further slash prices to half of the market rates.

The authority then decided the new pricing would apply to the batch. It also opened applications – the October round – for those who had not applied before the policy change.

The authority received almost 170,000 applications in the first round, an oversubscription of 37 times. The old and new applicants will compete in a lucky draw in November to decide who gets the flats, with everyone paying the new rate.

Chau said she did not apply for a flat the first time around because it cost almost HK$1 million more, which her family could not afford.

“But I’m also leaving it to luck this time because there are too many applicants and just too few flats available,” she said.

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Chau’s three-member family and her sister share a 300 sq ft low-rent public flat in Wong Tai Sin. The flat, which is already too small for them, will get even more crowded after her sister gets married.

She said they would just have to live with it if she failed to get an affordable home this time.

“This is the reality of Hong Kong. You can’t do anything about it,” she said.

She urged the government to build more affordable homes to close the gap between demand and supply.

Cheung Sui-ding, a 63-year-old tailor, took a form for his 41-year-old sister, who lives with their father in a 300 sq ft public flat.

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“No matter what, it’s still more help now the prices have come down,” Cheung said. “But it’s still like a lottery.”

Feng Xinmei, a 46-year-old part-time construction worker, said her family of five, including her husband, two children and mother-in-law, rented a 200 sq ft subdivided flat for HK$8,000 a month.

They had waited almost six years for public housing but still had not been assigned a flat, so they wanted to try their luck with buying a subsidised home, she said.

“Our living conditions are really bad,” Feng said. “A glimmer of hope is better than nothing.”

Hong Kong has been continuously ranked the world’s least affordable property market. As of June, there were 269,000 people waiting for low-rent public housing, with the average waiting time reaching five years and three months.