Hong Kong property

This upscale elderly housing project in North Point could be a model for housing the city’s ageing population

The Tanner Hill has proven to be a good fit for one retired couple who wanted quality housing and amenities suited for an elderly community

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 June, 2018, 8:01am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 June, 2018, 8:49am

Wilson Yue Hui-kwong, 79, sold a 391-square-foot flat with two bedrooms in a building in Causeway Bay last year for HK$7.4 million (US$942,794).

The flat owned by Yue and his wife had been the family home for a decade, however as they wanted a quieter and larger living space, and as the couple progressed well into their third decade of retirement, they began to seek out an alternative living option.

They eventually moved into Hong Kong’s first quality elderly housing project, taking possession in April last year of a new 526 sq ft one-bedroom flat at The Tanner Hill, after making a one-off payment of HK$3.4 million.

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The development, located in North Point, was built by the Hong Kong Housing Society, an independent, non-profit organisation.

Yue said he takes advantage of the clubhouse amenities at his new home on 8 Tanner Road, making regular visits to the indoor heated swimming pool, the gym, as well the multifunction rooms to enjoy film screenings and mahjong sessions.

He is more active now than when he lived in Causeway Bay, even though he had access to nearby public amenities, including a swimming pool at Victoria Park.

“The environment is good. Transport, which is the most important to the elderly like us, is convenient. It does not matter if you do not own a private car,” Yue said. “The facilities are good. There is a gym, seats in lifts and handrails everywhere.”

Other facilities include designated bathrooms for wheelchair users, a Chinese medicine clinic, a medical care and wellness centre, arts and crafts facilities and amenities geared towards visitors, such as a playroom to help keep children occupied.

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Yue said he was pleased with the new environment, and believed it provided a model that could be used to solve housing issues faced by the city’s ageing population.

“Such [elderly] housing is in short supply. Even more scarce is quality housing,” he said. “I will not consider moving out.”

The 588 units in the three residential towers are fully occupied by residents aged 60 or above. The Housing Society says it is accepting applications onto its wait list for long or short term lease.

“The long waiting queue is evidence of the substantial demand for this kind of elderly housing,” the society replied in a written reply to the South China Morning Post.

The Tanner Hill development allows individuals over the age of 60 to lease flats under a system that it refers to as “life lease”. Pricing depends upon “the age of the tenant, size and location of the unit” according to the Housing Society’s website.

For example, a resident aged 85 opting for a smaller sized flat of 351 sq ft unit would pay HK$1.6 million as a one-off fee. Under another pricing example, a resident aged 60 seeking a larger sized flat of 1,231 sq ft would be required to pay a one-off fee of HK$15.2 million.

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Shorter term leases are also available for qualifying applicants in prices ranging from HK$15,560 to HK$38,570 per month, however the Housing Society stressed that preference would be given to long stay residents.

Yue is part of an affluent ageing demographic that seeks good quality housing with elderly services.

Hong Kong is “well positioned” for high-end housing dedicated to the elderly, according to property consultants JLL.

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Census and Statistics Department data indicates that by 2034, almost a third of Hongkongers will be aged 65 or older, which will spur huge demand for quality housing for retirees.

Ingrid Cheh, associate director at JLL said only a handful of premium senior care or housing operators exist in the market. Among them Pine Care Group operates an elderly centre in Yuen Long’s Yoho Mall with 68 places. A single room rents for HK$38,000 per month, while a two-person room leases for HK$36,000. Additional charges ranging from HK$9,000 to HK$18,000 also apply.

“There are also smaller-sized local operators running elderly centres, though many are facing deteriorating conditions against a lack of professional management expertise or business incentives,” Cheh said.

Housing experts said large property developers have been reluctant to enter the elderly care sector owing to the long period needed to turn a profit.

“Elderly housing is a long-term investment with a long payback and holding period, so some developers may not like the business,” said an industry source, “And it is not like malls, where developers can raise rents every two years.”

Stan Group chairman Stan Tang, the 32-year-old son of retail “shop king” Tang Shing-bor, has emerged as one of Hong Kong’s leading private investors in quality elderly housing.

The real estate developer turned a residential building in Kowloon City into a HK$20 million serviced apartment project known as the Patina Wellness, which features 79 units for the elderly and their families.

Rents in the facility start from HK$26,700 per month for a one-bedroom 374 sq ft flat, or roughly 7 per cent above Hong Kong’s median monthly household income of HK$24,900. The most expensive unit, a three-bedroom flat of 1,024 sq ft, leases for HK$60,000 per month.

The project features round-the-clock care and other service amenities suited for a retirement community.

The developer has leased more than 10 of 1,500 flats expected to be ready in the next three to five years.

Centaline’s Lai believes elderly housing with flexible contract arrangements like Patina Wellness could become a trend.