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Property News Weekly Digest
〈The Standard, Feb 17, 2024〉Major real estate agencies in Hong Kong have cut down on the number of branches they are operating amid market weakness.

Among them are Centaline Property, which plans to pull down the shutters on 100 of its outlets in a space of two years.

To deal with weaknesses in both market turnover and volume, six agencies - with the others being Midland Holdings, Ricacorp Properties, Hong Kong Land, Many Wells and Century 21 - are cutting costs by axing branches.

"In the past six months [from August to last month], Centaline Property has decreased the number of branches from 450 to 400 and is targeting a low of 350," said its chief executive, Louis Chan Wing-kit."By then, it will save about 20 percent of costs."

〈Asian Post, Feb 16, 2024〉Hong Kong welcomed 750,000 visitors during the Lunar New Year holidays from 10 to 13 February.

“The night parade on the first day of the Lunar New Year, the fireworks display on the second day, the horse race on the third day and the soccer match on the fourth day yesterday were all well received and further boosted the festive vibes,” Secretary for Culture, Sports, and Tourism Kevin Young said.

650,000 of the 750,000 visitors were from Mainland, higher than the 640,000 record during the same period in 2018.

During the four-day period, about 1,200 inbound tour groups involving 40,500 travellers visited Hong Kong, exceeding pre-pandemic figures.

〈Hong Kong Business, Feb 15, 2024〉Hong Kong’s retail industry is currently being shaped by artificial intelligence, enhancing online and offline customer experiences to maximise profit, Randstad reported.

Businesses are also seen to invest in media marketing to increase targeting accuracy and measure campaign performance.

Despite a positive outlook, talent shortage will be a dilemma for businesses in 2024.

In 2024, Randstad expects a surge in demand for talent in customer relationship management (CRM) and data management and analytics to drive online sales.

〈Asian Post, Feb 14, 2024〉CBRE released its comments regarding the government land sale program.

For residential, CBRE expects prices to bottom whilst interest rates remain at high levels due to high inventories accumulated by developers.

CBRE found that developers appear to be less aggressive when bidding on government land. Meanwhile, amongst the outstanding land tenders, the real estate services firm expects the sites in Kai Tak Area 4B5 and Castle Peak Road - So Kwun Wat, Area 48, Tuen Mun to be likely awarded if the government is willing to lower the reserve price.

For industrial sites, CBRE said that the development of the Northern Metropolis will involve the large-scale relocation of economic activity from brownfield land to purpose-built industrial premises.

〈CNN News, Feb 13, 2024〉US homebuilding dropped significantly in January, as winter storms and higher mortgage rates stymied progress on the housing shortage.

Housing starts, a measure of new home construction, fell by 14.8%, compared with the previous month, according to data released Friday by the Census Bureau. It was the biggest monthly drop since April 2020.

Starts fell to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.331 million last month, well short of expectations of 1.46 million and hitting the slowest pace since August.

Building permits also dropped in January, down 1.5% from December’s revised number to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.470 million.