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Property News Weekly Digest
〈Asian Post, January 1, 2020〉The Hong Kong Monetary Authority announced today (January 31) the results of its survey on residential mortgage loans (RMLs) in negative equity at end-December 2019.

The estimated number of RMLs in negative equity increased to 128 cases at end-December 2019 from 53 cases at end-September 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$764 million at end-December 2019 compared with HK$330 million at end-September 2019.

The unsecured portion of these loans increased to HK$25 million at end-December 2019 from HK$7 million at end-September 2019.

Since the first quarter of 2011, there have been no RMLs in negative equity with delinquencies of more than three months.

〈The Standard, December 31, 2019〉The number of completed flats at 58 major projects completed in 2019 fell 35 percent year-on-year to 13,641 last year, hitting a four-year low, according to Centaline Property Agency.

The number of unsold units, meanwhile, stood at 10,889, down by 384 over 2018.

The number of unsold units measuring more than 1,076 sq ft at 122 major completed projects launched after 2016 rose by 336 units year-on-year to 1,958 in 2019, accounting for 33.5 percent of parallel units launched last year.

Meanwhile, sentiment in the secondary market has turned sour amid the worsening Wuhan coronavirus crisis, as the number of secondary transactions hit a three-week low and more loss-making sales were recorded in the luxury market.

Midland Realty recorded only 33 secondary transactions at 35 major housing estates in Hong Kong last week, down 53.5 percent week-on-week, the lowest over the past three weeks.

〈The Standard, December 28, 2019〉The luxury housing market in Hong Kong is expected to hit a three-year low in both transaction numbers and total price, with transactions above HK$20 million shrinking 30 percent from a year ago to around 3,000 deals in 2019.

The market saw a significant slowdown since the third quarter of last year amid adverse effects from the Sino-US trade talks, a slowing local economy and the ongoing social unrest.

Luxury house purchases in September fell to 93, with HK$4.68 billion changing hands, which is a 43-month low since February 2016.

In contrast, transactions were relatively stable in the first quarter of last year, with the number rising 15 percent quarter on quarter to 604, while the total transaction value slid 12 percent to HK$28.6 billion compared with the last quarter of 2018.

Subsequently, a total of 1,097 houses were sold during the quarter ended June, with 451 sold in May, compared with the peak monthly number of 643 deals in 2018.

〈Asian Post, December 27, 2019〉Chinese developers can now easily win tenders without spending huge sums as local rivals are holding back amid the gloomy economic outlook

More mainland developers would return to the Hong Kong land market as it became easier to outbid local rivals, who were holding back amid the city's gloomy economic outlook, industry observers said.

They have won three government tenders for sites in the current financial year, without spending the eye-watering sums they became known for a few years ago.

Kaiser Group Holdings, Citic Pacific and a venture between China Resources Land and Poly Property Group secured residential plots in Tuen Mun, Tai Hang and Kai Tak, the site of the city's former international airport, for a total of HK$19.6 billion. That accounted for 18 per cent of the HK$110.07 billion generated by land revenue between April 1 last year and January 12 this year.

"They have been able to defeat local property giants, which have turned more cautious about the market outlook. This provides an opportunity for mainland firms to win the government tenders," said Vincent Cheung Kiu-cho, managing director of Vincorn Consulting and Appraisal.

〈Asian Post , December 25, 2019〉Home prices in the Greater Bay Area cities of Shenzhen, Foshan and Huizhou are at their highest levels in three years as Hong Kong buyers took advantage of easier ownership rules, according to data from Centaline Property.

An index tracking prices of new and used homes in Shenzhen rose for a fifth straight month in December to cap a 9.4 per cent jump in 2019, while prices climbed 10.5 per cent for the year in Foshan and 7.4 per cent in Huizhou, taking prices in the three cities to the highest levels since March 2016 when Centaline started gathering data.

On average, prices in the bay area climbed 5.6 per cent in 2019, while Hong Kong saw a 4.4 per cent gain, Centaline said.

Hong Kong's government unveiled in November a proposal by Beijing to ease home ownership rules for Hongkongers in the bay area. Before then, some cities imposed ownership buying curbs on Hong Kong residents, including requiring a certain period of residency and taxpaying status.