Property investment

Strong sales at Alto give Walter Kwok’s property plan a positive start

Alto Residences at Tseung Kwan O are offered at HK$14,000 per square foot, the highest in the neighbourhood

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 October, 2016, 8:24pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 October, 2016, 11:23pm

The ambitious plan by Sun Hung Kai Properties’ former chairman Walter Kwok Ping-sheung to build his property empire in Hong Kong has seen a positive start with his jointly owned residential project in Tseung Kwan O attracting investors to line up for flats.

More than 110 units of Alto Residences were sold as at 8pm on the first day of sale on Sunday, according to Strongly Ltd, which is 50-50 owned by Kwok’s flagship holding company Empire Group Holdings and Hong Kong-listed Lai Sun Development.

The developer on Sunday offered 239 units of the 605-unit development for buyers who bought two to four units.

The selling price is more than HK$14,000 per square foot, the highest among other new residential projects in the area.

The developer said the buyers included genuine home seekers and investors, but agents believe most of them are investors.

“About 90 per cent of our clients who showed up [on Sunday] were investors,” said Sammy Po, chief executive of Midland Realty’s residential division.

One of them was experienced property investor George Cheung, who planned to buy one-bedroom units in the development for long-term investment.

“I was active in investing in the secondary home market,” said Cheung, adding he was attracted by the quality of the project and the outlook of the city’s housing sector. “I’m investing in the primary market for the first time.”

Po expected about 70 per cent of the 239 units to be sold on Sunday.

The developer gives buyers of multiple units the first pick on Sunday, leaving the unsold ones to customers of single units on Monday, while opening a further 124 for selection.

Alto Residences is a major investment by Empire, which Kwok established in 2010.

The company has already invested HK$7 billion in the city’s real estate and Kwok said it would continue to focus on the city’s real estate in view of strong demand from mainland Chinese.

Buying interest has been heating up in Hong Kong’s residential market in recent months, prompting some analysts to revise upwards their forecasts for the sector’s outlook.

In contrast to the forecast early this year of a 10 to 20 per cent price decline until 2017, analysts now expect the housing market to remain flat this year and even begin to move higher next year.

Buyers have been piling back into the market over the past few months amid mortgage rate promotions, slower-than-expected interest rate increases and developers’ aggressive financing schemes on new launches.