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Property News Weekly Digest
〈Business Post, Nov 21, 2020〉Brit hails urban survival creativity of Hong Kong public housing dwellers

Ranked the world’s most unaffordable housing market, Hong Kong has long been struggling with a severe shortage of public housing as the number of applications and the waiting time keep breaking records. While public housing apartments are highly sought after by urban dwellers of all ages, not many are aware of the unique features and historical development of these estates.

Iain Cocks fell in love with the city’s public housing estates when he moved to Hong Kong from London 13 years ago. The kindergarten teacher often photographs the estates near his workplace during the week and visits those further out on his days off. Cocks' shots of urban density carry a style reminiscent of the late German photographer Michael Wolf. Apart from sharing his pictures on Instagram (@gaatzaat), the Englishman also keeps a record that chronicles Hong Kong’s public housing development over the years.

"It was love at first sight," Cocks recalls the first time he passed by Wah Fu Estate in Pok Fu Lam on a bus. "I did not know what that building was back then. I only learnt later that the two rows of buildings with open corridors were public housing estates, so I went back to check it out and look around. And the journey kind of began from there." He visited the estates one by one according to the year of their establishment. Having visited over 100 estates built before the ’90s, he has come up with a top 10 list and crowned Oi Man Estate in Ho Man Tin his favorite.Cocks has visited over 100 public housing estates in five years.Cocks explores Oi Man Estate in Ho Man Tin.

〈Asian Post, Nov 20, 2020〉Japan wants to turn Tokyo into Asia's top finance hub, sensing Hong Kong has been weakened by political turmoil, but analysts say the plan is unlikely to have much impact on office demand in the Japanese capital.

The government said this month a financial services agency would soon be launched to oversee the registration and supervision, in English, of Hong Kong-based foreign asset managers. It has also set up an office in Hong Kong to advise companies mulling a move to Tokyo.

"It will probably attract at most a small percentage of firms out of Hong Kong to Japan," said Maggie Hu, associate professor of real estate and finance at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

There are plenty of reasons for Hong Kong's status as a regional financial centre, while Tokyo will continue to primarily cater to domestic companies, according to analysts.

Hong Kong's position as a gateway to China's huge domestic market is unrivalled at the moment, while its low-tax environment is a perk that firms are unlikely to get in Japan any time soon. With English more widely used in Hong Kong, the language barrier in Japan is another obstacle that needs to be overcome.

〈China Daily, Nov 19, 2020〉Shenzhen, which just had a grand "birthday party", developed into a metropolis on top of others in Asia in just four decades - a miracle that grabs worldwide attention. It has surpassed Hong Kong in economic scale and I&T achievements. Under complete central government authorization, its improvement will get faster to act as the leader in the Greater Bay Area. Having fallen into long-term civil strife, Hong Kong was unable to move ahead. The situation is dire. Shenzhen's leaps and bounds are a strong warning. The government and public must reflect upon the reason for "losing the race". Zheng Yongnian, a CUHK-Shenzhen scholar, pointed out that Hong Kong has been afflicted with "pan-politicization" which is worth pondering. Lost direction, falling into "vicious cycle"

  There are many reasons for Shenzhen's success amid the turbulent global economy, including the central government's authorization to make the special economic zone "special", making full use of nearness to Hong Kong, actively introducing outside enterprises and talents, continuous improvement of business and research environments as well as expanding infrastructure and land resources. But the key lies in locking development as the main target. Shenzhen's core leadership takes this as its main mission. The clear target, forceful implementation and political stability eventually turned Shenzhen into a miracle.

  Hong Kong's past two decades were a different story. From the 1950's to 1990's, everyone took development as the target for survival, because not advancing meant awaiting death. That sense of danger strengthened their willpower to drive the economy ahead. Mainland reform and opening up made use of Hong Kong's capital, experience and talents while expanding room for its growth.

〈Asian Post, Nov 18, 2020〉Sino Group's 'PropXtech' event will encourage spread of property technology in the Greater Bay Area as Covid-19 puts emphasis on well-being

The coronavirus pandemic will add a new twist to innovations in building management as developers embed more advanced technology to meet demand for health and safety and the well-being of occupants, according to Sino Group.

As staff returned to offices after months at home, technologies such as robotic air-quality sensors and touch-free and voice-activated systems were among innovations being deployed with urgency, said Andrew Young, associate director for innovation.

"Occupants are less focused on only knowing how much energy you can save, but increasingly they want to know if the building in which they work or live is safe, and enhances their overall well-being," he said.

The threat of Covid-19 infections provides the backdrop to Sino Group's annual edition of "PropXtech" next quarter, its programme designed to spur new ideas in building management. More than 300 start-ups took part in the event last year, where 12 finalists were selected.

〈China Daily, Nov 18, 2020〉New World Development reported a fourth sell-out weekend at its latest real estate project in the city, selling all 343 flats at The Pavilia Farm in Tai Wai in nine hours, as homebuyers who missed out on earlier launches packed the developer's sales room.

Every flat was sold as of 6.30pm, according to Sammy Po, chief executive of Midland Realty's residential division. The developer chalked up HK$3.9 billion of sales receipt yesterday, bringing its total haul to more than HK$15 billion from the sale of 1,440 flats in four weeks, New World said in a statement.

The enthusiasm to buy follows a reiteration by the US Federal Reserve to keep the current loose monetary policy unchanged, maintaining the global flow of low interest rates to sustain a global economy hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Hong Kong's monetary policy is conducted in lockstep with US policies, so low US rates would keep the cost of money low in the city, translating to cheaper mortgages for homebuyers.

"A lot of potential buyers who were turned away during the previous sales have returned," Po said. "They have now come to buy as the pricing of the project is reasonable, and its location atop the Tai Wai subway station is a big draw card."

The flats, with sizes ranging from 330 to 866 sq ft, are priced between HK$6.99 million and US$17.65 million after discounts of as much as 20 per cent.