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Property News Weekly Digest
〈Asian Post, Sept 19, 2020〉Retail prices for stalls at a popular Mong Kok mall known as the "scalping paradise of iPhones" sank to one of the worst levels in decades, the latest data from the Hong Kong government shows.

A stall space of 56 square feet in Sin Tat Plaza recently sold for HK$1.1 million (US$141,900), or HK$19,642 (US$2,534) per sq ft, according to Land Registry records. The previous owner made a loss of HK$5.2 million, which was 82 percent less than the selling price in 2012.

It was one of the lowest price levels in decades; back in 1994, the same stall went for HK$2 million.

Another stall, measuring 62 square feet and located on a different floor, changed hands for HK$1.5 million, HK$5.32 million less than its transaction price in 2014 and a drop of 78%.

Dubbed the "scalping paradise of iPhones," Sin Tat Plaza is a known hub for dealers who buy the latest Apple models in bulk to flip for a profit.

The COVID-19 pandemic following months of social unrest in the city has dealt a further blow to the retail property market, as government officials struggle to keep the economy afloat during the city’s worst recession in years.

The deal at Sin Tat Plaza was one of only four transactions this year. Earlier this year in February, the seller of another stall had a better deal, offloading his property for HK$700,000, with a loss of only HK$130,000.

〈China Daily, Sept 17, 2020〉Buyers stayed on the sidelines for the first big sale of flats in Hong Kong yesterday after the government relaxed social-distancing measures, reluctant to spend on big-ticket items as the economy shows no signs of emerging from a recession that has stretched into four quarters.

As of 6pm, mainland developers Longfor Group and KWG Property sold just one out of 123 flats at the Upper River Bank project in East Kowloon, close to the former Kai Tak airport, agents said, adding that they could possibly sell another before they closed for the day.

This was the eighth batch of flats on sale since the project was launched in September last year, with prices ranging from HK$13 million to HK$28 million after discounts. The developers plan to offer another batch of 52 units for tender soon.

Before yesterday, they had sold 352 of the 667 units in the project, collecting HK$5.1 billion in receipts.

"We will not see homes over HK$10 million selling fast at this moment," said Sammy Po Siu-ming, chief executive of the residential division at Midland Realty.

〈The Standard, Sept 15, 2020〉Rents revive as price falls spur investors

Despite rising unemployment rates, average rents in the housing market inched up in July, especially for new projects.

The average rental indices in Hong Kong's residential market rose 0.6 percent month on month, the latest data from the ratings and valuation department showed.

The rental yield of new projects ranged between 2.3 and 2.9 percent. Small and medium flats in new projects with monthly rent levels of below HK$20,000 proved popular.

Hong Kong Property Services (Agency) chief executive Richard Lee Chi-shing said property prices have dropped during the city's third wave of local Covid-19 infections.

As a result, those with sufficient capital may use this opportunity to purchase a second flat for investment.

He also said that rents in new projects have recorded a slight increase, meaning rental income may better compensate for mortgage repayments.

Residential properties are relatively strong hedges, Lee added, so investors tend to buy flats for long-term rental income.

Rents in Kai Tak, an area that has seen a significant number of new flats, have risen consistently.

〈Asian Post, Sept 14, 2020〉Number applying to British universities jumps 14pc, sparking demand for residential property

Britain's education sector is set to contribute some (HK$6.9 billion) over the next 12 months to residential property purchases in prime central London, with Hongkongers seeking to send their children to British universities likely to represent the fourth-largest group of buyers, according to Knight Frank.

"Education has always been a key driver for residential property purchases in London, especially for students based overseas," said Liam Bailey, global head of research at the consultancy.

"Covid-19 may have altered the way clients view their children's education as well as their property investments, but the fact remains that Britain offers some of the best education in the world and this isn't deterring clients from Hong Kong looking to invest in prime London property for their children's future."

Hongkongers have always been among the largest foreign investors in London property, but recent political developments, particularly Beijing's imposition of a national security law, appear to have spurred further demand for homes in the capital and other British cities.

Inquiries for London property from Hong Kong this month were 30 per cent higher than they were at the start of the year, said Mei Wong, executive director, head of international residential sales at Knight Frank.

〈Asian Post, Sept 13, 2020〉Big investors sell up as risk looms

Fear of a deeper correction in prices prompts wealthy owners to cash in before loss of more value

Veteran investors in Hong Kong property, anticipating a deeper correction in prices amid dwindling buying activity, the coronavirus pandemic and worsening US-China relations, are rapidly cashing out of their holdings.

Albert Wong Kam-hong, former deputy chairman of real estate company Midland Holdings, for instance, sold his adjoining flats in Coronation Tower near Kowloon Station for HK$22 million last month.

The two flats, at 1,206 sq ft in total, bought eight years ago, netted a profit of HK$4.85 million.

"Hong Kong's current economic state is even worse than it was in 1997 [during the Asian financial crisis] and 2003, when the city was gripped by [severe acute respiratory syndrome]," said Wong, the founder of Traffic Light Management Consultancy which provides consultancy services to listed firms.

"Why hold on to property if I see higher chances of prices falling rather than appreciating?"

The number of property deals, including homes, commercial and industrial buildings and car parking spaces, dropped about 34 per cent month on month to HK$45.6 billion in August, according to data from the Land Registry. It was the lowest since the HK$38.35 billion worth of deals in April.