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Property News Weekly Digest
〈Asian Post, Oct 17, 2020〉Four decades on, a lot can still change in a short time in China's continuing opening up and reform. Shenzhen's sudden rise to ascendancy in the Greater Bay Area development vision attests to that.

Last year Beijing confirmed Hong Kong as a key equal partner on the strength of its status as a finance, trade and transport hub. Now, ahead of a party plenum that will approve the country's next five-year plan, President Xi Jinping has unveiled a new blueprint identifying the Shenzhen special economic zone as an "important core engine" of the bay area.

Xi said Shenzhen should promote the integration of Hong Kong and Macau, and the economic rules and mechanisms of the three places. Understandably this has given rise to concerns, following social unrest and the imposition of a national security law, that Hong Kong is being sidelined in the next stage of development of the world's second-biggest economy. But it still leaves room for the city, as an international finance centre, to make itself indispensable as fundraiser for a regional technological and economic powerhouse.

〈Asian Post, Oct 16, 2020〉Just seven out of 262 homes sold from phase two, with agents pointing to an oversupply in district

China Evergrande, the world's most indebted developer, failed to offload leftover flats at its Emerald Bay Phase 2 project in Tuen Mun yesterday.

It had sold just seven out of 262 by 7pm. Agents blamed an oversupply of new flats in the area. Several projects, such as New World Development and MTR Corporation's The Pavilia Farm in Tai Wai, have diverted attention.

"The purchasing power [for such flats] has dried up," said Patrick Yu, district sales manager at Centaline Property Agency, adding that such small flats were new when the project was released in October last year and its first two launches sold out. But other projects such as Seacoast Royale and Oma By The Sea soaked up first-time buyer demand, Yu said.

Yesterday's dismal outcome follows a share sale by Evergrande, which is trying to raise funds to reduce its gearing amid suspected cash-flow issues, that failed to deliver the goods. The company reportedly left out close associates of chairman Hui Ka-yan as it sought to raise as much as US$1.09 billion and wanted to prove it could access long-term funding without relying on other mainland property tycoons.

〈China Daily, Oct 15, 2020〉The coronavirus crisis may have ruffled the feathers of coworking space operators with empty offices as workers stay home. But industry experts are adamant that physical office space can never be replaced as tenants seek greater operational flexibility and comfort. Pamela Lin reports from Hong Kong.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has decimated global businesses on an unprecedented scale, has revolutionized the way people live and work, triggering the shift to work-from-home.

But will the trend take root and be sustainable post-pandemic, posing a grave threat to the existence of the physical office space?

Real-estate players and key operators of coworking spaces that had taken the world by storm in the years prior to the coronavirus onslaught are at pains to debate that the office is here to stay. They see working from home as merely an expedient step to thwart contingencies like COVID-19, and such an arrangement can never take the place of physical offices.

The most severe health crisis the world has seen since the Spanish flu pestilence of 1918 has prompted companies to revisit their office-space strategies with costs, flexibility and employees' wellness uppermost in their minds.

〈Business Post, Oct 14, 2020〉A local buyer snapped up a luxury home in Kowloon for more than HK$71,000 per square foot, the second most expensive deal in the past three months, in another indication of the allure of high-end property in the city.

The buyer, "a very rich family", paid over HK$238 million for the 3,330 sq ft penthouse with a 2,933 sq ft balcony at the St George's Mansions project in Kadoorie Hill, according to Victor Tin, group associate director of sales at Sino Land, a joint developer of the estate.

"We are delighted that the project has been well received by families, in particular those who have lived in the legendary neighbourhood for generations," said Tin, declining to give more details of the buyer.

The development, consisting of three 20-storey buildings, is surrounded by luxury villas and thick greenery.

The neighbourhood is home to actor Andy Lau Tak-wah and Canto-pop singer Kelly Chen Wai-lam, and is known for its association with the prominent Kadoorie family, who developed the area in the 1930s.

〈The Standard, Oct 13,2020〉Incomes fall, mortgage delinquencies rise

Nearly three in four Hongkongers experienced negative impacts on household income, and mortgage delinquencies of Gen X consumers, born between 1965 and 1979, rose 41 percent in the second quarter from a year before, according to two surveys by TransUnion.

The Global Consumer Financial Hardship survey was conducted among 1,100 adults in Hong Kong from August 30 to September 3.

73 percent of consumers said their family incomes have been negatively impacted.

Furthermore, TransUnion's Q2 mortgage data reveals that 76 percent of the Gen Z respondents, born 1995 or after, are experiencing the greatest financial impact of the pandemic. Employment-wise, the study has found that 20 percent of Gen Z respondents have been laid off from their jobs, while 60 percent of millennials have experienced shortened employment hours.

According to TransUnion's Q2 2020 Industry Insights report, mortgage delinquencies for the first half of the year are on the increase, showing a year-on-year growth of 1 basis point in the second quarter.

Gen X consumers defaulting on their mortgage loan payments increased from 302 in the second quarter of the previous year to 426 this year. Millennials - those born between 1980 and 1994 - showed a 72 percent increase over the same period from 107 to 184 cases of mortgage delinquencies for the first half of the year.