〈China Daily, October 13, 2018〉Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor's Policy Address reveals a grand reclamation plan - the Lantau Tomorrow Vision. It is somewhat like the New Rose Garden that eases land shortage through enormous spending and construction to bring hope for the people and economy. However, in the short and medium terms, the housing supply is still barely adequate with limited remedies.
The $100 billion Rose Garden Project before the handover comprised 10 core projects including the new airport, showing the government's determination to invest beyond 1997. Today there are no handover concerns, but many in the society, especially youngsters, are perplexed by high property prices. The wealth gap between property owners and those without properties has significantly widened. Youngsters not only find it difficult to buy their first homes. Even when they become owners, the heavy repayments turn them into "property slaves", becoming their biggest obstacle of "going upstream".
Property shortage not only affects livelihood but also creates a bottleneck in drawing investors. In the Lantau Tomorrow Vision, the government will spend $400 to $500 billion in 1,700-hectare reclamation for building three to four artificial islands connected to Hong Kong Island and Lantau with railways and express ways. Together with Tung Chung, Penny Bay and Tuen Mun's Lung Kwu Tan, the 2,100-hectare reclamation is very ambitious. It is not just an architectural project. It is also one that builds confidence and hope.
Faced with possible disputes, Lam said solemnly that not following the Lantau Tomorrow Vision will result in bad conscience.
However, the plan may lead to disputes and judicial reviews. From experience with major works such as the mega bridge, the concern is not unfounded. According to the authorities, the first artificial island will be completed 14 or more years later. Complications may delay completion, possibly making it at least 30 years.
〈Macau Daily, October 12, 2018〉The Financial Service Bureau (DSF) says that it will pay close attention to Hong Kong’s levying of new taxes on first-hand residential units which have remained unsold for a period of time after completion.
DSF’s comment came out in a reply to lawmaker Song Pek Kei’s written inquiry, which proposed that the government review the law concerning the first-hand purchase of a residential property when it is unfinished.
DSF answered that the bureau will observe changes in Hong Kong’s market, particularly with regard to the demand and supply of housing units and prices.
The bureau also indicated that it will research the feasibility of a similar measure for Macau. According to DSF, Macau and Hong Kong’s housing markets are different in nature, as are their real estate regulations.
Most of Macau’s vacant properties were built before 2000. Last year, there were also some vacant homes due to the completion of new housing projects. DSF believes that these houses cannot be regarded as first-hand vacant properties.
According to the official statistics, until the end of 2017, there were 15,252 vacant properties (2,300 first-hand) in Macau, representing a vacancy rate of 6.8 percent.
〈The Standard, October 12, 2018〉Bridgeway chief executive Edwin Lee says shops in residential areas selling daily necessities will be resilient despite the economic uncertainty and he is bullish on shops near the high-speed-railway stations and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.
"In October, so far we have recorded up to 13 transactions, which is a small number. When the market was heated in 2013 and 2014, we had up to 300 or 400 transactions per month."
Lee said the shop property market is under pressure due to trade war tension and rising interest rates.
Shop property deals saw 1.1 percent growth in the number of transactions to 1,130 from January to July 2017, amounting to HK$21.97 billion, a 44 percent year-on-year increase.
Property company Cushman & Wakefield expects rentals in the shop property market to increase 3 percent, driven by the strong demand of local consumption this year, despite trade war tension and depreciation of the yuan clouding the economy.
Figures from the Census and Statistics Department showed 18 months of retail sales growth. The value of retail sales in August was up 9.5 percent at an estimated HK$38.2 billion over the same month in 2017.
〈The Standard, October 11, 2018〉Some 8,000 new homes will be up for sale in the fourth quarter, of which 5,000 are in Tseung Kwan O and Kai Tak, and business insiders predict rents will increase.
Thirteen new projects will come on the market, of which three are in Tseung Kwan O: The Papillons, Monterey and Alto Residences.
Hong Kong Property Services chief executive Richard Lee said that there will be more flats available for rent as several large-scale developments will be completed by the end of the year.
Rents in nearby housing estates might decline slightly when the new projects are finished, but Lee believes rents will go up again after several months with strong housing demand, especially near rail links.
Stanley Ng, deputy district sales manager of Centaline Property, said The Papillons, Monterey and Alto Residences will provide around 309 pre-leasing units, with the bulk, 161, coming from The Papillons.
The cheapest rental apartment at The Papillons, with 271 square feet, is HK$15,000 or HK$55 per square foot.
Ng added that there had been 18 of these rentals at The Papillons, including a 518 square foot flat that has been leased at HK$18,500 or HK$35.70 per square foot, with a rental yield of 3.7 percent.
Pre-rental activities were also quite active at Monterey and Alto Residences, with more than 120 units released for leasing at a minimum of HK$17,000.
〈Asian Post, October 10, 2018〉A three-bedroom home in Tai Koo Shing was sold at about 20 percent less than the valuation estimated by major banks.
The 922 saleable-square-foot home at Banyan Mansion was listed at HK$18.6 million and changed hands at HK$17.58 million, or around HK$19,000 per sq ft, according to Centaline Property.
Online valuation of HSBC estimated the property at HK$21.74 million, about 20 percent, or HK$416 million higher than the price sold. The Bank of China (Hong Kong) estimated its valued at HK$20 million.
The flat was completed by Swire Properties in the 1970s, and home prices at Tai Koo Shing are widely regarded by industry watchers as an indication of the health of Hong Kong's housing market. The area comprises more than 60 residential blocks that provide about 12,000 flats.
Estates agents said although more home owners in the secondary market have slashed asking prices, there are fewer buyers in the market amid uncertainties in the global financial markets.
A home owner at The Legend in Jardine's Lookout recently slashed HK$6 million off the asking of a 1,752-sq-ft apartment. The five-bedroom luxury home in Tai Hang changed hands at HK$46 million, or HK$26,256 per sq ft.