Tony Tse wants property professionals to speak with one voice

Legislator wants to unite the three professional bodies so they can speak with one voice

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 August, 2013, 3:10am

Tony Tse Wai-chuen was elected to the Legislative Council last year as the member representing the architectural, surveying, and planning constituency.

For the 58-year-old, the election capped a career in the property market that saw him being appointed to the boards of property developers Hongkong Land, Emperor Investment, Henderson Land and SEA Group, as well as the Urban Renewal Authority.

He was president of the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors from 2003 to 2004, and later served as chairman of Sunlight Reit.

"I stood for election to the council because I felt we needed as an industry to do more to help tackle property issues that have arisen over the last few years," Tse said in an interview with the South China Morning Post.

"Home prices are high and the city is losing the harbour to reclamation. Also, the town planning of Tin Shui Wai has been criticised for causing social problems."

Tse is now trying to unite the three professional bodies in the property sector - surveyors, architects, and town planners - so that they may speak with one voice on the challenges facing the sector. "My idea is that our voice could be stronger if we presented a joint view on common subjects and made suggestions to the government."

Tse said he broadly supported current housing policies, which were "heading in the right direction". But he sympathised with home seekers who are priced out of the market.

"Increasing land for housing and the number of new houses takes time and there is not too much that the government can do. So it is now trying to discourage unnecessary housing demand by introducing various measures, aimed at preventing prices from rising sharply again."

While the measures have led to a 60 per cent decrease in home sales, the Centa-City Leading Index shows property prices have dropped by just 3.5 per cent since February.

"To see bigger price adjustments we will have to wait for the release of new projects. Price movements of second-hand homes usually depend on asking prices of new residential projects, but developers have been reluctant to launch new projects and the release of the new sales ordinance in April gave them a good excuse to slow releases rather than cut prices," he said.

Tse expects more releases next year but added that if developers wanted to achieve strong property sales, they would have to cut prices.

Tensions are currently running high between Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and developers, Tse acknowledged.

"The chief executive is trying to avoid being criticised for collusion between government and business. But to ensure that current policies are understood and enforced, he has to communicate more with the developers.

"Salaries will not grow significantly in the future. But housing demand will remain strong and so I believe we should increase the supply of subsidised housing from 60 per cent of total new supply to 70 per cent," said Tse.