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Property News Weekly Digest
〈The Syraits Times, October 19, 2019〉Hong Kong's government yesterday provided further details about new policies announced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam in a bid to ease the city's housing crisis, which includes seizing up to 400ha of land for public housing over the next five years.

Mrs Lam had on Wednesday said she would increase funding for temporary housing from the promised HK$2 billion (S$350 million) to HK$5 billion, building 10,000 transitional housing units in the next three years and seizing up to 160ha of brownfield sites in the New Territories for public housing.

Brownfield sites refer to land plots that have previously been developed but are not currently in use. The ones in Hong Kong tend to be farmland in the New Territories damaged by small, polluting businesses like e-waste recycling.

Another 290ha, whose exact location is to be announced next year, will also be inspected for hou-sing suitability.

"It is not realistic that all of the land (because of previous usage or location) would be suitable for public housing," said Secretary for Development Michael Wong.

He also defended the use of the Lands Resumption Ordinance for the land seizure, saying that it has often been used in the past to free up land for public facilities like roads and railways.

〈Asian Post, October 18, 2019〉Analyst say the first time buyers are likely to take advantage of the new loan rules to boost sales, while the government also looks to help renters

The government's relaxation of mortgage rules for the first time in nine years could give a much-needed lift to first-time buyers and put a cushion under the city's slumping real estate market.

In her policy address, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor raised the mortgage limit to 90 per cent of property's value, from 60 per cent, for homes worth up to HK$8 million, and to 80 per cent for homes worth up to HK$10 million.

"For those first-time buyers who have the ability to repay, we are helping them by giving a choice on relaxing the down payment," said Frank Chan, Secretary for Transport and Housing.

Housing affordability has been a major issue in the city in recent years, and some analysts have said it is one of the underlying reasons behind the protests.

〈The Standard, October 18, 2019〉The decision to raise the mortgage cap for first-time home buyers has prompted property owners to freeze plans to sell residential flats, hoping for a rebound of prices.

In fact, some owners raised prices by up to 10 percent on the news.

This led critics to question if the policy aim is to keep property prices high despite an expected global recession. Then people who do buy could face negative equity.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced on Wednesday that for a first-time home buyer a 90 percent loan will be available on a propertyworth HK$8 million - a doubling from HK$4 million. And the cap on prices for an 80 percent loan was lifted to HK$10 million from HK$6 million.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan said yesterday that ceilings do not figure alone in prices as "the global and local economy play crucial parts."

He also called for people to go carefully as "buying property in Hong Kong is probably the biggest investment a person can make." And "affordability and needs have to be considered very carefully."

The only target is to help citizens become home owners, Chan added, and the changes cater to people who have incomes sufficient for repaying mortgages but who cannot afford large premiums.

〈Global Times , October 16, 2019〉Rents for shop space in Hong Kong plunged by 10.5 percent in the third quarter, as months of riots in the city took a toll, local media outlets reported, citing a report by US commercial real estate services CBRE Group Inc.

The decline was the sharpest in 21 years in Hong Kong, one of the world’s most expensive cities, according to a report by local news site hkej.

The CBRE report further forecast another 5-10 percent fall for shop space rents before the year’s end.

The fall was due to growing cau- tiousness by retailers over continued riots in the city, as the China-US trade war and the riots cast a negative im- pact on locals’ willingness to spend.

Rents in shopping malls may also take a hit as many of the riots took place near these venues.

In August, retail sales in Hong Kong fell about 23 percent year-on- year to HK$29.4 billion ($3.75 bil- lion), according to the city’s Census and Statistics Department.

〈Asian Post , October 16, 2019〉Social Housing project will provide 100 homes in Tin Shui Wai, on farmland donated by New World

The man on the receiving end of Hong Kong's biggest corporate bequest is planning to build a village in a northwest corner of the New Territories, across the Shenzhen Bay from southern China's technology hub.

One hundred homes, each measuring about 300 sq ft will be ready for occupation by 2022 near Tin Shui Wai MTR station on farmland donated by New World Development.

Named the Light Village, the housing community will be reserved for low-income families with children, said Ricky Yu, whose social-housing organisation, Light Be, is heading the project.

New World's September 25 giveaway involved 3 million sq ft of farmland, a third of which will go to Yu's nine-year-old organisation.

The Light Village, occupying 28,000 sq ft of land for a token HK$1, will be the first project of its kind, a corporate social responsibility showcase and a stab at tackling one of the most pressing social ills that underpins the city's worst political crisis.