Harrow School draws new families, pushing up rents

While rents elsewhere are falling, international school has pushed them up in new town

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 July, 2013, 11:56am

Flat rents in So Kwun Wat, Tuen Mun, have surged since the opening in the area of the Harrow International School.

"Rents in the area have risen by about 27 per cent from HK$15 per square foot to HK$19 per sq ft over the last few months," said Ricky Ng Pang-hung, deputy district manager at Midland Realty in So Kwun Wat.

"That has happened as other districts have seen residential rents falling. But here we have new demand because the Harrow School has attracted families from Island South and Sai Kung." Summer is the peak season for the residential leasing market and many families have relocated into the district before the school year starts in September. According to Midland, 125 leasing transactions were recorded in the area last month, a surge of almost 70 per cent over the 75 transactions recorded in May.

"As those families previously lived in other districts and are not familiar with So Kwun Wat, most prefer to rent a flat in the district at first rather than buy immediately," said Ng. Almost a third of the new tenants are mainlanders, while the remainder were divided between local and other non-Hong Kong residents.

Most of the families with children enrolled in the Harrow International School were looking for 2,000 sq ft flats or houses at monthly rents of about HK$40,000.

With the strong demand and tight housing supply, monthly rents of houses with a saleable area of 2,133 sq ft at Aqua Blue have now doubled to HK$100,000 in three years.

Property sales in the area have also benefited from the demand generated by the opening of the school.

"House Number 33 at Beaulieu Peninsula with a saleable area of 2,349 sq ft sold for HK$35 million in April 2011, resold for HK$43 million in August last year, and last month was sold again for HK$59 million. That's a jump of almost 70 per cent in three years," Ng said.

In Sha Tin, the leasing market has also been active during summer, thanks to an influx of mainland students.

"Sha Tin is popular with mainland students because it is close to The Chinese University, Hong Kong Baptist University, and City University of Hong Kong. Students need to travel for only one or two MTR stops to their schools," said Roy Choi, senior district sales director at Centaline Property Agency.

The leasing market in the area has been active since the end of May. "Wai Wah Centre usually has 10 leasing deals a month. But in June, the estate recorded 18 deals, and we have done 15 deals so far this month," said Choi, who added that about 60 per cent of the new tenants were from the mainland.

In many of the transactions this year up to three students had taken two-bedroom flats of 300 to 500 sq ft at monthly rents of HK$11,000 to HK$12,000. Hilton Plaza, Shatin Centre, and City One Shatin were the most popular housing estates.

"As mainland students are willing to pay rent up front for the entire year, flat owners are willing to lower the rent by a few hundred dollars," said Choi.