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Property News Weekly Digest
〈The Standard, May 27, 2022〉Hong Kong private home prices reversed a three-month decline in April, the latest official data showed on Friday, as the financial hub stabilized after Covid-related woes and homebuyer sentiment was boosted by waves of new development launches.

Prices in what survey company Demographia ranked the world's most unaffordable housing market, climbed 0.5 percent in April from the previous month, according to official data, compared with a revised 0.6 percent fall in March.

Hong Kong's economy was hit earlier this year after some of the world's most stringent social restrictions were imposed to tackle the latest Covid outbreak. The measures also prompted real estate agents to lower forecasts for 2022.

After months of muted activity, property developers rushed to launch new sales in April in response to the withdrawal of some Covid restrictions, triggering over-subscribed demand from buyers that drove up both transaction volumes and prices.

〈China Daily, May 26, 2022〉Mixed-use units have seen disputes between landlords and tenants after legislators last month passed a temporary law that stops Hong Kong landlords from evicting tenants who can't pay rent on time in specified sectors.

The bill, which came into effect this month and lasts until the end of July, states that landlords cannot recover any outstanding rent during a three-month protection period from tenants in sectors such as retail and catering businesses. But it does not cover offices and factories.

Under the bill landlords can be liable to a fine equal to twice the amount of the rent or no less than HK$50,000 if they violate the law.

Property insiders say some tenants use units for basing a retail business in their offices due to the high rents in the SAR and argued such tenants should not be covered by the bill.

〈The Standard, May 25, 2022〉Home developers have been speeding up applications for a change of land use since the SAR administration revealed the Northern Metropolis strategy in November.

There have been at least nine rezoning applications in Yuen Long alone since then, which between them could provide over 38,000 residential units if all are approved.

Of these, Sun Hung Kai Properties and Hongkong Land's two applications to build 14,565 homes - nearly the size of Kingswood Villas in Tin Shui Wai, one of the SAR's largest estates - at a site in Shek Wu Wai are the most impressive.

The development, which covers a site area of 112,993 square meters, would go up in two phases, providing a gross floor area of around 594,750 sq m for residential use and 52,235 for commercial.

〈Asian Post, May 24, 2022〉S&P Global Ratings said in an early April report that China's policy crackdown on its residential housing market has "bottomed," but that it will take several quarters for markets to feel the effects of the regulatory easing.

"When China's residential market emerges from this correction, it may be changed forever," S&P said. "We anticipate fewer developers will be able to employ the highly leveraged, fast-churn strategy that brought past success."

Recent reports show that some cities and banks are willing to support real estate again after a plunge in home sales in the last few months.

Since March, due to weakening market demand, banks in more than 100 cities in China have lowered mortgage rates by an average of 20 to 60 basis points, Zou Lan, director of the People's Bank of China's financial markets department, told reporters Thursday.

〈China Daily, May 23, 2022〉New property transactions in nine cities within the Greater Bay Area are expected to rise by up to 5 percent this quarter, driven by factors such as easing policies and lower mortgage rates.

The cities, especially Guangzhou and Foshan, have seen greater relaxation of curbs in the property sector that will boost the market and experts expect transactions in the GBA will rise by 3.5 percent to 5 percent in the second quarter compared to the previous period, says an executive of property agent Talent Asia GC company.

Guangzhou has relaxed the price cap on first-hand residential properties since the beginning of the year while local banks have also sped up mortgage lending, with loans generally completed within one month, said Zheng Shulun, a senior executive from a unit of Centaline Property.