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Property News Weekly Digest
2020/8/22
〈China Daily, August 22, 2020〉Teresa Cheng's outstanding home loan with StanChart in limelight as financial firms sever ties with city's officials sanctioned by the US

Two of the seven Hong Kong officials sanctioned by the United States government have outstanding mortgages held with international banks, obligations that are coming under scrutiny as financial institutions move to sever ties with them to comply with Washington's regulations.

Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah took out a mortgage with Standard Chartered Bank for her HK$26 million Tuen Mun villa, bought in 2008, according to Land Registry records. Commissioner of Police Chris Tang Ping-keung also transferred his mortgage from HSBC Holdings to Bank of China (Hong Kong) on August 4, three days before the US put him on the sanction list, records showed.

The scrutiny underscores how US sanctions can make day-to-day life more difficult for so-called specially designated nationals and their families, as international banks that want to continue to access the US financial system suspend their businesses.

"It would be safer to shift the mortgage to big mainland banks," said Raymond Chong, managing director at mortgage referral brokerage firm StarPro Agency.

〈Asian Post, August 21, 2020〉Property giants send court bailiffs to seal off some shops and take legal action to recover payments

The months-long stand-off between commercial landlords and retailers is taking a turn for the worse, as the third wave of the coronavirus outbreak and the city's recession crimps retail sales, pushing many businesses to the brink of bankruptcy.

Harbour City, one of the city's best-known shopping centres and a favourite for mainland tourists, last week sealed off the stores of clothing retailers G2000 and Anagram in a dispute between the owners and the landlord Wharf Real Estate Investment Corp. The shops have since reopened.

Wharf Reic also separately sued UA Cinemas last week for HK$1.92 million in unpaid rent at its Times Square building in Causeway Bay, while Hang Lung Properties has sued UA six times since May for HK$7.17 million owed at Amoy Plaza.

"Landlords and tenants are symbiotic" in business, said Annie Tse, chairwoman of Hong Kong Retail Management Association, adding that she was "disappointed" by the rising spate of legal disputes. "This reflects [the fact] that landlords lack social responsibility and [the empathy] to share in the burden" of the city's retail slump, she said.

Disputes between landlords and tenants have been simmering through the past four quarters as the city's economy slumped into its worst recession on record. More than 560 companies in Hong Kong have faced liquidation threats since the start of 2019, while HK$134 billion worth of retail sales evaporated in that span, according to the government statistics.

〈The Standard, August 20, 2020〉Secondary home sales in Hong Kong rose 43 percent over the weekend to a 14-week high, with Centaline Property Agency recording 20 transactions at 10 blue-chip housing estates, as there was no sale of major residential projects in the primary market over the weekend and the third wave of Covid-19 infections showed signs of abating.

At Amoy Gardens, a 378-sq-ft flat changed hands for HK$5.98 million, or HK$15,820 per sq ft, after HK$520,000 was cut from the initial asking price.

And at Taikoo Shing in Quarry Bay a 580-sq-ft flat sold for HK$10.85 million, or HK$18,707 per sq ft, after HK$650,000 was cut from the asking price. Another three-bedroom flat at the estate fetched HK$13.9 million, or HK$20,441 per sq ft, after HK$2.1 million was slashed from the asking price.

In the commercial property market, British fashion retailer Topshop said in a Facebook post that it is closing its branches in Hong Kong, joining a wave of major fashion brands fleeing from the city amid a retail sales slump.

Last month, Swatch said it is accelerating plans to shut stores in Hong Kong as well as shops that sell its namesake wearables and CK.

Swatch reported a net operating loss of 327 million Swiss francs (HK$2.7 billion) in the first half, with sales plunging 43 percent from a year ago.

And in June, American underwear brand Victoria's Secret closed its flagship store in Causeway Bay.

〈China Daily, August 19, 2020〉Secondary home sales in Hong Kong rose 43 percent over the weekend to a 14-week high, with Centaline Property Agency recording 20 transactions at 10 blue-chip housing estates, as there was no sale of major residential projects in the primary market over the weekend and the third wave of Covid-19 infections showed signs of abating.

At Amoy Gardens, a 378-sq-ft flat changed hands for HK$5.98 million, or HK$15,820 per sq ft, after HK$520,000 was cut from the initial asking price.

And at Taikoo Shing in Quarry Bay a 580-sq-ft flat sold for HK$10.85 million, or HK$18,707 per sq ft, after HK$650,000 was cut from the asking price. Another three-bedroom flat at the estate fetched HK$13.9 million, or HK$20,441 per sq ft, after HK$2.1 million was slashed from the asking price.

In the commercial property market, British fashion retailer Topshop said in a Facebook post that it is closing its branches in Hong Kong, joining a wave of major fashion brands fleeing from the city amid a retail sales slump.

Last month, Swatch said it is accelerating plans to shut stores in Hong Kong as well as shops that sell its namesake wearables and CK.

Swatch reported a net operating loss of 327 million Swiss francs (HK$2.7 billion) in the first half, with sales plunging 43 percent from a year ago.

And in June, American underwear brand Victoria's Secret closed its flagship store in Causeway Bay.

〈The Standard, August 18, 2020〉Property investors from Hong Kong are not letting coronavirus social-distancing measures and closed borders get in the way of a promising deal in the Greater Bay Area development zone.

Aiko Lo and her husband recently bought a holiday home in Zhongshan, one of the nine mainland cities included in the zone, without ever leaving Hong Kong.

Held back by the pandemic initially, they decided to explore new projects on the internet while stuck at home. They bought online a 1,200 sq ft flat in Times Xianghai Bian, built by Hong Kong-listed mainland developer Times China, for HK$1.5 million at the office of V+ Property, a small agency in Lai Chi Kok.

"We saw the health crisis is an opportunity to buy, as prices will rebound when the coronavirus is contained," Lo said.

Hong Kong investors spent about 40 billion yuan (HK$44.6 billion) on homes in the area last year, up from the 10 billion yuan in 2018, according to Andy Lee Yiu-chi, chief executive for southern China at Centaline Property Agency.

Meanwhile, Zhongshan's home prices have fallen about 15 per cent from an August 2018 peak, according to Centaline.