With the construction of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge nearing completion, rentals and sales prices of properties in southern Lantau, including Discovery Bay (DB), are going up. And, with the announcement that the Hong Kong government may develop southern Lantau as a future metropolis, investors and property buyers have started inquiring about properties there. Buyers are also attracted to the lifestyle and access to the international airport that southern Lantau offers, plus the convenience of being able to reachCentral in less than 40 minutes by MTR. Likewise, Discovery Bay also is gaining the attention of investors for its lifestyle and popular diners, plus its international schools and medical facilities. Apart from airline crews, DB, which is 25 minutes to Central, has long attracted a cosmopolitan mix of bankers, entrepreneurs and other professionals. Thorsten Allenstein, a fashion executive-turned-property-consultant at OKAY.com, says rental prices of DB properties, ranging from flats to villas, have been under some pressure owing to the reductions to expat packages and housing allowances that have been made to their salaries. “Generally, asking rental is HK$60,000 and up. There’s a price pressure because people coming into DB have lower budgets than before. This is because of reduced corporate packages. Also, the overall trend is that a lot more people are leaving DB than coming in. This could be because Hong Kong is starting to localise jobs, which affects the expat market,” he says. The higher end of the rental market, priced at HK$60,000 per month or above, in DB is facing some pressure, he says, while the HK$35,000 to HK$50,000 per month range is a sweet spot. Most rental deals fall within this price range. As a result of low interest rates and market tightening measures, the typical buyer-seller standoff continues. “Landlords are not desperate to sell or under any kind of pressure. Buyer interest is strong, but they expect some more concession from home sellers because of the financing restrictions [imposed] by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority,” he explains. “So there’s a big gap between offers and asking figures.” While the existing floor plan mix of DB is geared towards larger families, its developer, HKR International, is set to launch a new development that better suits smaller families or couples in the near future. The development is located in DB north and will provide 196 units, including studios, arranged over three mid-rise buildings, upon scheduled completion in the second half of 2018. Families can lease a full village house for somewhere between HK$28,000 and HK$50,000 Kelly Merrick, Home Solutions Away from DB, village houses – many of which have been modernised or refurbished to meet the modern lifestyle – are more affordable on the southern coast of Lantau, in places such as Mui Wo, around Pui O and Cheung Sha, according to Kelly Merrick, founder of Home Solutions, a boutique estate agency based in Mui Wo. “At 700 sq ft per floor or 2,100 sq ft per house, these village houses can be customised in design and functionality to suit the needs of families. The houses [have] a rooftop and may also include a garden. Outdoor space is such a luxury in Hong Kong, yet most residents in southern Lantau are able to enjoy these benefits.” Depending on the location, design, amenities, amount of outdoor space and views, a full floor in a typical village house is listed at HK$10,000 to HK$22,000 per month on the lettings market, she says. The majority of lettings she has closed have been in the range of HK$12,000 to HK$16,000 per month. “Families can lease a full village house for somewhere between HK$28,000 and HK$50,000. Most village houses for lease are priced in the range of HK$32,000 to HK$40,000.” Within the seaside town of Mui Wo, there are a range of low-rise apartment buildings that are within walking distance to the ferry pier, groceries shopping, schools and restaurants. Many have stunning sea views and modern renovations. These flats lease for HK$10,000 to HK$25,000, she says. Those who desire the best of both worlds may opt for a managed housing complex, including those built and managed by reputable developers. For example, the Riverwalk complex in Mui Wo, managed by Sino Homes, offers rentals configured as studios, one- and two-bedrooms (204-882 sq ft), with rental rates starting at HK$15,000 per month. Besides limited sale availability, a small number of luxury houses at the Whitesands development located opposite Cheung Sha beach, are also offered for lease at rents starting at about HK$85,000 per month, according to Swire Properties. Many of them offer amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, gyms and security. All are in walking distance of one or more beaches and beautiful hiking trails, Merrick says. “With such a large range, there is something for everyone. People are trading a short, relaxing ferry ride into town for the ability to live in a larger home surrounded by green space and spectacular seas. Being close to the airport is a big plus, too.” But vehicular access to southern Lantau – except Tung Chung – is limited, and so are public car-park spaces.