Weekend Property

Outdoor appeal: high-end developments around Hong Kong Science Park are signs of Tai Po’s rising affluence

Families attracted by proximity to network ofinternational pre-primary, primary and secondary schools

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 September, 2016, 11:33am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 September, 2016, 11:43am

You don’t need to venture far beyond Hong Kong’s jam-packed inner-urban areas to find a lower density living environment. Tai Po is 13 MTR stops from Central and home prices there are far more affordable than in the traditional luxury green areas of Kowloon.

If you want to buy new, the flats are likely to be much smaller. But that’s the point, say developers behind complexes comprising a proportion of studios. In a city where home ownership is out of the reach of many, small or microflats at least enable buyers a grip on the property ladder.

This, combined with a lack of new supply, saw 10,000 potential buyers jostle to buy flats off the plan at the July 2014 launch of Mont Vert in Tai Po, which included several one-room studios marketed as the cheapest newbuilds in Hong Kong. One flat, the size of a small hotel room at only 194 sq ft, sold for HK$1.94 million – or HK$10,031 per square foot – according to the price list released by developer CK Property. They might only accommodate a single occupant – but they did offer air conditioning and a clubhouse, which was enough for some, it seems.

However, most buyers were trading up to the larger three- and four-bedroom apartments in the development, since Tai Po, one of the original New Territories market towns, is rising in affluence.

Henry Mok, regional director, Hong Kong Capital Markets at JLL, says that Tai Po has always been part traditional luxury area, featuring large houses and apartments; and part old industrial area, comprising mainly of public rental housing. Mont Vert became something of a bridge between the two.

The area’s potential is evident in higher-end developments located around the Hong Kong Science Park area, Mok notes, citing the Providence Bay project by Sino Group. The low density, Norman Foster-designed waterfront property enjoys sea views of Pat Sin Leng and Tolo Harbour, with a backdrop of scenic mountain ranges. It also features a luxurious clubhouse with strong leisure facilities.

This development has sold quite well and the highest transaction price reached around HK$36,100 per square foot
Henry Mok, regional director, Hong Kong Capital Markets at JLL

“This development, launched in phases beginning in 2011, has sold quite well and the highest transaction price reached around HK$36,100 per square foot,” Mok says.

Established prestige developments around Old Tai Po Road do well as resales, Mok adds – notably Constellation Cove by Kerry Properties on Hung Lam Drive, appealing for its green space and natural environment.

Such developments, about 10 to 15 years old, offer what Mok terms “affordable luxury”. Their resale price is generally cheaper than a newbuild, but the homes are usually larger, and their construction is of good quality.

As an example, a four-bedroom, four-bathroom apartment of 3,696 sq ft in Casa Marina, on Lo Fai Road, is for sale for HK$28 million. A budget of HK$30,000 per month should secure renters a sizeable three-bedroom house in such a development, incorporating three levels, a carport and garden – about the same rental as that for a much smaller flat on Hong Kong Island.

A typical 700 sq ft village house rents for HK$12,000 to HK$14,000 per month, or sells for as little as

HK$5 million.

Tai Po has a number of attractions for families, including proximity to international pre-primary, primary and secondary schools. The new American International School Hong Kong adds to the Japanese International School, Norwegian International School, Hong Lok Yuen International School, and nearby Sha Tin College and Renaissance College.

The district offers an outdoor lifestyle. There is Hong Kong’s most extensive woodlands, the forested 460-hectare Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve to explore, and a leisurely waterfront cycling path around Tolo Harbour, extending all the way to Tai Mei Tuk. Tai Po Waterfront Park, where the cycle path begins, is a 22-hectare green open space oasis described by Lonely Planet as “arguably [Hong Kong’s] most beautiful public park”.

Mok says despite rising real estate prices, Hongkongers dreaming of home ownership “have not missed the boat” if they are prepared to move to Tai Po and beyond. Apart from the MTR connections, he adds, infrastructure such as the Lion Rock Tunnel makes Tai Po more convenient than ever.