Buyer rush for Hong Kong's luxury flats breathes life into market

Competitive pricing and sweeteners at The Austin and The Cullinan help ease the gloom over the sector as locals lose no time to secure deals

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 October, 2013, 3:56am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 October, 2013, 10:11am

It might be well past mid-autumn but it could well be spring for Hong Kong's luxury property market, with two projects in West Kowloon well received by local buyers over the weekend, thanks to pricing at the low end of the secondary market and deal sweeteners.

The 185 flats offered at The Austin, a project above the Austin MTR station co-developed by New World Development and Wheelock Properties, attracted more than 600 registrations from interested buyers over the weekend, market sources said.

Buoyed by the increasing appetite for luxury property in the city, the developers raised the prices of a further 70 units at The Austin by 5.6 per cent on Friday to an average of HK$24,149 per square foot, compared with an average of HK$22,871 for the first 116 flats in the project.

However, the prices were still at the lower end of those for secondary market units at nearby developments such as Victoria Towers, The Coronation and The Cullinan, which range from HK$20,000 to HK$31,000 per square foot, Credit Suisse said in a report.

Registration will be open until Thursday, with flats at The Austin to go on sale from Saturday. The developers have offered discounts of up to 5 per cent on flat prices and also offered to subsidise buyers for the cost of the 8.5 per cent stamp duty, which was doubled from 4.25 per cent in February.

Separately, the latest batch of 35 units offered in the sixth phase of The Cullinan, developed by Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) above the Kowloon station, sold out in one day yesterday.

"The buyers finished selecting all the 35 flats by 4pm while the contracts are expected to be finalised by 8pm," one agent said.

Thomas Lee, director at Midland Property's Kowloon Station district, said: "Since 80 per cent of the 35 flats are restricted to Hong Kong individual residents, it reflects the buying power of locals on luxury properties after the government's [cooling] measures to discourage mainland buyers."

SHKP's offer of a 70 per cent subsidy on stamp duty had seen more than 1,000 buyers register for yesterday's sales, market sources said.

"The subsidy on stamp duty is crucial to stimulate the demand from those seeking to upgrade their homes after the government's doubling of the stamp duty this year," Lee said. Other developers were likely to follow after seeing the response at the two projects, he added.

The flats offered in the latest Cullinan release ranged from ones with a saleable area 675 sqft, priced at slightly above HK$20 million, or HK$29,738 per square foot, to ones of 1,161 sqft, which sold for HK$37.6 million, or HK$32,434 per square foot. The average price per square foot was 6 per cent higher than the previous batch of flats sold earlier this month.

Meanwhile, a residential project at Tai Hang, The Warren, developed by medium-sized developer Wing Tai Properties, also opened for sale yesterday.

The saleable size of the flats ranges from 383 to 612 sqft, with prices starting at HK$10.5 million, or HK$27,000 per square foot.

Market sources said two flats at The Warren were sold yesterday.