Wharf kicking off luxury sales with Mount Nicholson project in Hong Kong

Mount Nicholson will be the first new luxury property to be sold in Hong Kong in 2015. Property consultants said all eyes will be on the project as it will be a gauge of how much wealthy buyers will spend on high-end real estate

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 January, 2015, 9:48am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 January, 2015, 11:44am

Wharf (Holdings) will kick off its tens of billions worth luxury property portfilio on The Peak with the planned sale of its first one - Mount Nicholson - in the first half of this year.

The property on Mount Nicholson Road, which has a floor area of 324,000 sq ft, is a joint venture project between the company and Nan Fung Development. They bought the site in 2011 for HK$10.4 billion.

It will be the first new luxury property to be sold in Hong Kong this year. Property consultants said all eyes will be on the project as it will be a gauge of how much wealthy buyers will spend on high-end real estate.

The plan comes as property consultants expect a stable outlook or even a mild correction in luxury prices as the government’s measures - Buyer’s Stamp Duty, Double Stamp Duty and Special Stamp Duty - remain in place and a possible interest rate rise is expected this year.

But Ricky Wong, managing director of Wheelock Properties, is confident about the project. Wheelock Properties, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Wheelock & Co, is in charge of the development and marketing of Mount Nicholson along with three other Peak properties owned by Wharf, a subsidiary of Wheelock & Co.

Wong believes that luxury properties worth several million Hong Kong dollars are still in demand due to limited supply.

Wharf also has three other Peak properties with prime locations at 1 Plantation Road (90,000 sq ft), 11 Plantation Road (46,000 sq ft) and 77 Peak Road (42,000 sq ft) that are under redevelopment.

“They will be developed and launched in about three to four years,” said Wong.

The first phase of Mount Nicholson includes 17 detached houses with swimming pools, with the biggest one in size having 10,000 square feet of saleable area. Phase two includes two houses and two apartment blocks with 12 units each and the third phase includes two apartment blocks with 12 units each. “We will see more transactions of properties with prestige addresses this year as buyers have gradually accepted the new transaction costs,” Wong said in an interview with the South China Morning Post.

He said transaction prices of top end properties sold last year were over HK$100,000 per sq foot.

For instance, a house at Twelve Peaks at 12 Mount Kellett Road with a saleable floor area of 3,771 sq ft sold for HK$412.63 million, or HK$109,424 per square foot in August last year.

“(Mount Nicholson) will be the most valuable property on The Peak with asset value of more than HK$20 billion,” said Wong.

Wong said they have obtained pre-sale consent for the development but they would sell the property when complete. “When we launch the first phase of Mount Nicholson, we will hold some of the 17 houses for long term investment,” he said. The first phase will be offered for sale in the first half of 2015.

Local money, mainlanders and affluent foreigners have expressed initial interest in both houses and apartments, he said. The developers have invited a number of international architects to design the houses of the development.

They include Robert Stern, the architect of 15 Central Park West (once New York’s most expensive apartment). He designed a number of houses for the project including the largest one of 10,000 sq ft.

Thomas Lam, head of Valuation & Consultancy at Knight Frank said with the implementation of Double Stamp Duty, prices in the luxury residential market have experienced mild downward pressure this year and are expected to drop modestly by less than five per cent in 2015.

But top end properties could be a different market due to extremely limited supply. Transaction price will be high but sales will be slow due to their large lump sum, said Lam.