〈Asian Post, August 11, 2018〉The wait for public housing in Hong Kong is at its longest in 18 years, with families on hold for five years and three months to be allocated a flat, according to official figures released yesterday.
The queuing time increased by two months as of the end of June, according to Housing Authority statistics. Single elderly applicants waited an average of two years and 10 months.
The quarterly statistics are based on data from those who received a flat in the past 12 months, and are used as a reference for current applicants.
Out of 268,500 applicants, more than half - 56 per cent - were families. The rest were single non-elderly applicants.
Stanley Wong Yuen-fai, chairman of the authority's subsidised housing committee, said the government could consider increasing the proportion of public flats from the current 60 per cent of 460,000 flats officials pledged to build in the next decade.
"However, the government needs to be careful how it would affect the private property market and rental rates if more land is being allocated to build public flats," Wong added.
Lawmakers expressed dismay with the waiting time, while a concern group warned that it would get longer.
Committee member and lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin said he was "appalled" by the rapid increase in average queuing time.
"The government cannot avoid its responsibility of finding sufficient land for public housing projects, instead of pushing out a few lots every time it's under public pressure," Wan said.
〈Asian Post, August 11, 2018〉CK Asset Holdings, the property conglomerate chaired by Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, has won the tender for what could be Hong Kong's most expensive property development linked to a rail station.
CK Asset could spend up to HK$38 billion to build a residential development on the Wong Chuk Hang site.
MTR Corp awarded the tender for phase three of the plot, next to the Wong Chuk Hang MTR station yesterday, two days after the tender closed.
CK Asset, which Li formally took over from his father Li Ka-shing in May, beat other property giants including Sun Hung Kai Properties, Henderson Land Development, Chinachem Group and a consortium comprising New World Development, Wheelock Properties, Sino Land, China Overseas Land & Investment and K Wah International to secure the site.
Grace Woo Chia-ching, executive director of CK Asset, said the company was confident in the potential of the site.
"The railway development at the station, which is one of the only two [MTR] stations away from transport hub of Admiralty, is the only remaining [project of its kind] on Hong Kong Island," Woo said, adding that the firm expected to complete the scheme by 2023.
Surveyors estimated the total investment cost for the project would range between HK$27 billion and HK$37.65 billion.
The site, which will yield a total gross floor area of 1.5 million sq ft, will be developed into four towers having a total of 1,200 flats and a 505,908 sq ft shopping centre.
〈China Daily, August 10, 2018〉Hong Kong's sole rail operator MTR Corporation — currently embroiled in a construction scandal — reported net profit and revenue decreases for the first six months of the year on Thursday — due to lower property income.
The train services operator posted a 12.1 percent year-on-year decrease in revenue to HK$26.37 million for the first half, while net profit attributable to shareholders fell 5.3 percent to HK$7.08 million.
The company said the main reason for this is that Tiara — its residential and commercial development project in Shenzhen — did not report any significant revenues and profits last year.
But its transport operations in Hong Kong, the MTRC’s core business, grew on the back of the city’s strong economic growth.
This helped lift passenger numbers by 2.3 percent to 997.8 million for the period — a record high. Revenue from transport operations increased 4.1 percent to HK$9.32 billion.
As the city's sole rail operator, MTRC’s overall share of the franchised public transport market in Hong Kong reached 49.2 percent in the first five months of the year.
Strong economic growth and a rebounding retail sector are likely to continue boosting the company's Hong Kong business, Chief Executive Officer Lincoln Leong Kwok-kuen told reporters when releasing the interim results.
〈The Standard, August 9, 2018〉The two biggest mortgage lenders - Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation and Bank of China (Hong Kong) - have raised their mortgage rates. But this did not deter some investors from rushing into the market yesterday.
The buyer of a unit in Twelve Peaks, though he claims to live on Apliu Street - considered a poor area in Sham Shui Po - paid HK$730 million for the flat with HK$219 million in stamp duty.
The land registry document showed that the buyer is Fortune Million Ltd, whose executive director is mainlander Lai Ronghuo.
Lai owns another unit in Twelve Peaks that he bought for HK$412.64 million, or HK$109,400 per square foot, in 2014.
The new deal comes after UBS projected that home prices will fall 5 to 10 percent from now to the end of next year, mainly driven by an expected hike of 50 to 75 basis points in mortgage rates.
UBS said the property market is highly linked to macroeconomic conditions. A stable economy is a positive factor that will support buyers to actively participate in the property market and the escalating Sino-US trade war could weaken Hong Kong's economy, it added.
HSBC bank announced that the cap of HIBOR-linked new mortgage application will be raised to a best lending rate of 2.65 percent. Prime rate-linked new mortgage plans will also be adjusted to 2.75 percent. The policy will come into effect on Monday.
Bank of China (Hong Kong) raised its HIBOR-linked mortgage to prime rate minus 2.65 percent, which is 2.35 percent, while the prime rate-linked mortgage was raised to prime rate minus 2.75 percent, which is 2.25 percent. The new policy will come into effect next Monday.
Standard Chartered also increased its HIBOR-linked mortgage rate to 2.35 percent, and the prime rate-linked rate to 2.25 percent.
〈The Standard, August 8, 2018〉Luxury mansion sales in Hong Kong have become detached from the underlying economy amid a narrow supply of suitable physical properties and growing demand from an influx of mainland billionaires seeking to secure homes in the city, according to analysts.
At least 82 ultra-luxury homes, or those worth at least HK$314 million, have sold in the city in the past 30 months, according to Mark Fogle, managing director and head of real estate at Baring Private Equity Asia.
"We don't see this [trend] abating," Fogle said, noting on average 20 to 30 luxury homes were released on the market yearly.
Historically, sales of these luxury homes in the city have been split evenly between Hong Kong buyers and those from the mainland.
In the last four months, however, about 75 per cent of the new purchases were by high-net-worth mainland buyers, Fogle said.
"Hong Kong is totally different from any other market in the world. Just in the last 30 months, there were 82 homes sold that were priced above US$40 million, which is unheard of, and the average price of those homes is US$84 million," Fogle said.
Mainland billionaire Zhu Xingliang is the owner of Asia's third-most expensive flat, at the exclusive Mount Nicholson development on The Peak.
Zhu, from Suzhou, was revealed as the buyer of the 4,266 sq ft flat on the 10th floor of the development's third phase, according to data released by the Land Registry in December.