On The Peak or in Mid-Levels, almost any new residential development can claim the “exclusive” tag by virtue of location alone. But local and international investors with the wherewithal to consider these areas are not simply drawn by the time-honoured attractions of spectacular harbour views, cooling summer breezes, abundant greenery and easy access to the heart of the city. Nowadays, they are also on the lookout for properties that are one-of-a-kind in terms of architecture, interiors, decor, and the latest in hi-tech wizardry. And, in response, leading developers have gone out of their way to rise to the challenge. “We have invited a number of the world’s top designers to tailor each project in our Peak portfolio, creating houses and apartments in different styles,” says Ricky Wong, managing director of Wheelock Properties. “As a result, each of them has a unique character and features top-grade materials and appliances sourced from all over the world. At the higher end of the market, buyers are looking for dream homes, with design and craftsmanship that exceed their expectations. That is what makes a difference.” As illustration, Wong points to the Mount Nicholson development, where some homes have gone for record prices. The project has been an eight-year collaborative effort, benefiting from international and local expertise, with great attention given to every single detail. The third phase, with one unit per floor, offers living and dining areas of over 1,000 square feet, high ceilings, and a master bedroom, known as the “great chamber”, designed to match the elegance and amenities typical of a presidential suite. Wong also highlights the adoption of “smart living” concepts. Every new unit is now equipped with an advanced home-automation system, with centralised controls, which makes for greater all-round convenience. “In general, the response to Mount Nicholson has been overwhelming; we have achieved satisfactory sales results and transaction prices so far,” Wong says. “It shows there is continuing market demand for ‘mega-size’ ultra-luxury properties, and we believe this sector will remain resilient, with sizeable lump-sum investments expected. Another unique project in our portfolio — at 77 Peak Road — is sure to catch the eye, so we have an optimistic view of the year ahead.” Samuel Chu, founding partner and chief investment officer of Phoenix Property Investors, is equally confident that, even as other districts find new appeal, The Peak and Mid-Levels will retain their cachet as “neighbourhoods of choice” favoured by shrewd investors and the business elite. In his view, the limited supply of new properties coming on to the market will bolster demand, an impression borne out by the record-setting price achieved for the last remaining duplex unit at The Morgan on Conduit Road. It was recently sold by tender for HK$188.8 million, equivalent to HK$80,580 per square foot, confirmation that well-heeled investors are interested in something beyond first-rate amenities, clubhouse facilities and landscaped gardens. “Our buyers and residents appreciate the architectural design, the unique layout, and the use of quality materials and craftsmanship,” Chu says. “We are delighted that The Morgan continues to capture the market’s attention and, indeed, I believe there is room for ultra-luxury home prices to grow.” Understandably, in some quarters there are concerns about the possible impact of trade disputes and stock market volatility, but Chu predicts such uncertainties will have no major impact on demand. He notes that the latest wave of mainland and international buyers includes high-net-worth individuals with “strong purchasing power”. They are willing to pay premium prices for luxury homes, even if it means forking out almost 30 per cent of the sale price for government stamp duty. Similarly, he believes a new vacancy tax on unoccupied high-end properties is unlikely to have much effect. At the moment, the tax accounts for about 5 per cent of the property price, but developers with existing luxury residences are expected to transform unsold units into leases to reduce the impact of the tax. “Overall, premium locations and traditionally prestigious areas will continue to attract considerable interest,” Chu says. “With that in mind, we plan to launch another residential project on Peak Road as early as the first quarter of 2019. It is a joint venture development offering over 10 residences. Each measures over 2,000 sq ft in size and has unobstructed views of Victoria Harbour.” Not far away, in Mid-Levels West, the upscale Babington Hill development has also stirred considerable interest in recent months. Led by Sun Hung Kai Properties, it was designed to reflect market trends by offering 79 residential units in a range of two- to four-bedroom layouts. These allow for the incorporation of signature features and individual touches, assuring their appeal with long-term investors with an eye to the rental market. Several apartments also have outdoor roof space, and the design team put special emphasis on combining style, luxury and exclusive leisure facilities to meet the needs and expectations of modern urban living.