Hongkongers' interest in buying property falls, Citibank survey finds

Citibank research also shows average number of deals per quarter down 40pc this year

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 November, 2013, 5:12am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 November, 2013, 5:12am

Some 15 per cent of Hongkongers said they were interested in buying property in the last quarter, a drop of more than 10 percentage points year-on-year, according to an annual survey by Citibank released yesterday.

Analysts said the government's market cooling measure of an additional stamp duty of 15 per cent on purchases by corporate and non-permanent resident buyers contributed to the drop in purchasing intentions. The policy was introduced in November last year.

The survey also found that the average number of property transactions per quarter fell by almost 40 per cent, to 13,000 in the first three quarters of the year, compared with a quarterly average of 21,000 last year and in 2011.

Some 1,600 Hongkongers in the 21 to 60 age bracket were surveyed. The margin of error of the survey was 5 per cent.

"We saw a steady decline both in people's interest in buying and the volume of property transactions after the introduction of the new measure," said Citibank's head of research, Kit Chow Wai-kit.

"Other potential factors such as property prices and salaries have remained stable."

Some 15 per cent of those surveyed were interested in buying property, up from 12 per cent in the second quarter.

Fanny Lum So-fun, Citibank's head of retail banking products, said the lower-than-expected prices of flats in new housing estates could have caused the rise in interest.

She predicted that there would be 16,000 new flats offered next year, which could lead to a 10 per cent decrease in prices and more transactions.

Around 45 per cent of people interviewed in September believed property prices would drop over the next two years, compared to 25 per cent in September last year.

Some 3 per cent thought it was a good time to buy property.

About 61 per cent of respondents believed that mortgage rates would increase next year, compared with 37 per cent last year. Despite talk about the United States cutting back on its "quantitative easing" policy, Lum said the bank believed US dollar interest rates would not increase until mid-2015 and that Hong Kong dollar interest rates would remain stable until then.

Half of the survey's respondents owned property, with about 43 per cent having a mortgage. About half of the survey's respondents believed they would not be able to own a flat within the next ten years.

About 15 per cent of respondents believed they could afford to buy a flat.