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Property News Weekly Digest
〈Asian Post, November 1, 2019〉The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) yesterday cut its base lending rate for the third time in as many months in lockstep with the US Federal Reserve, and keeping with the trend of global central banks loosening their financial taps to avert the world economy's descent into recession.

The base lending rate would be reduced by 25 basis points to 2 per cent effective immediately, the HKMA announced, matching the overnight cut of the same amount by the Fed. That prompted HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank and Bank of China (Hong Kong) to cut their rates for the first time in 11 years to take the pressure off small businesses.

Hong Kong's economy shrank 3.2 per cent in the third quarter from the previous three-month period, its worst quarterly contraction in a decade, putting the city in a technical recession.

"As the largest commercial bank in Hong Kong, HSBC has the social responsibility to help Hong Kong companies cope with the difficult time," the bank's Asia-Pacific adviser, George Leung, said.

〈Asian Post, November 1, 2019〉Homeowners began raising their asking prices after the banks cut borrowing rates yesterday as data showed Hong Kong's private home prices dropped for the fourth straight month.

The news came as Sino Land and CLP revealed plans to launch their new luxury project - St. George's Mansions Kadoorie Avenue in Ho Man Tin - in November. The project offers a total of 175 flats including two-bedroom units measuring around 800 sq ft, three-bedrooms of 1,800 sq ft, and four-bedrooms ranging from 2,000-2,100 sq ft.

Deputy chairman Daryl Ng Win-kong, who used to study at the nearby Diocesan Boys' School, said he always passed by the site when he was young.

Renowned American architect Robert AM Stern heads the project's architectural team and Ng says he will also consider buying into the project.

Sino Land won the tender in 2017 to redevelop the former headquarters of electricity company CLP into a luxury residential project, and also convert a historic clock tower into a community facility that includes an electricity museum.

〈China Daily, October 31, 2019〉Home prices in Hong Kong, the world's least affordable housing market, declined for a fourth month in September, dropping by their fastest pace in nine months.

Prices fell 1.8 per cent, their biggest decline since a 2 per cent drop in December 2018, and have lost 4.1 per cent in total during their four-month losing streak, according to the Rating and Valuation Department.

This came as the estimated number of residential mortgage loans in negative equity increased to 53 cases at the end of September from just one case at the end of June, according to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).

Centaline Property Agency said the number could return to zero by the end of this year if home prices rose by that time.

〈The Standard, October 31, 2019〉The Hong Kong Monetary Authority announced today (October 31) the results of its survey on residential mortgage loans (RMLs) in negative equity at end-September 2019.

The estimated number of RMLs in negative equity increased to 53 cases at end-September 2019 from one case at end-June 2019. The majority of these cases were bank staff housing loans, while a small number of them were RMLs under mortgage insurance programme. These loans generally have a higher loan-to-value ratio.

The aggregate value of RMLs in negative equity increased to HK$330 million at end-September 2019 compared with HK$3 million at end-June 2019.

〈Business Post, October 27, 2019〉As cosmetics retailer Bonjour pulls out, investor estimates rents are 70pc down from 2013 peak

Hong Kong's Russell Street, the world's most expensive retail strip, has lost another tenant, in the latest sign that the city's retailers are struggling to cope with more than five months of anti-government protests.

Cosmetics chain Bonjour Holdings has closed its outlet in the popular tourist street in Causeway Bay, just two months after landlord Early Light Group said Italian fashion house Prada would close its 15,000 sq ft store in June next year.

"[Bonjour's] lease has expired. We have found a new tenant to immediately take it up," said Donald Cheung, executive director at Emperor International Holdings, owner of the shop.