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Property News Weekly Digest
〈Asian Post, April 3, 2021〉Tens of thousands of subdivided flats, home to some of Hong Kong's poorest people, should be subject to rent controls tied to an existing index that reflects the general market, with raises capped at no more than 15 per cent, a government-appointed task force has recommended.

Pegging rent increases for the often-cramped dwellings to the index would prevent exorbitant spikes and keep prices in line with the general trend in the residential market, the task force said yesterday.

Unveiling its proposal, task force chairman Dr William Leung Wing-cheung defended the 15 per cent figure as appropriate, although it was higher than the 10 per cent ceiling for a separate mechanism that regulated rents of public housing.

"[Subdivided units] are not provided by the government. The owners of SDUs are actually ordinary citizens so they have no obligation to help subsidise housing for the low-income group."

The plan to bring back tenancy control, a policy scrapped 17 years ago, was first announced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in January last year in a bid to address Hong Kong's housing crisis, long viewed by the central government as one of the city's most "deep-seated" problems.

〈Asian Post, April 2, 2021〉Regal Hotels International(0078) opened the price list for the first batch of The Queens in Sai Ying Pun, involving 50 units with an average price of HK$30,299 per square foot.

That is nearly 10 percent more expensive than Henderson Land Development's (0012) Two Artlane in the same district, which was launched in September.

The 50 units ranged from 242 sq ft to 431 sq ft. The cheapest flat costs HK$6.88 million.

Meanwhile, mainland developer Centralcon named its Fo Tan residential project The Arles, set to launch soon. It provides 1,335 units ranging from 330 sq ft to 1,500 sq ft.

In in Sha Tin, Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016) will launch St Michel Phase 1 next month.

And in Tai Kok Tsui , CetusSquare Mile will open sales of 20 units on Sunday with minimum price of HK$28,537 per sq ft.

〈China Daily, April 1, 2021〉Two researchers are proposing to revolutionise Hong Kong's land-use laws, floating an idea that could help unlock and convert swathes of farmland into residential land and help alleviate the city's affordability problem.

The idea involves a two-step process: first, the government needs to allocate 50 sq ft of land in the form of transferable development rights (TDRs) to every eligible Hong Kong permanent resident, according to Qiao Shitong, professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, and Roderick Hills Jnr, law professor at New York University.

Second, the rights, which are tradeable, can be pooled by developers into lots that can support the construction of residential property, they said.

The plan could even be used for building public housing for low-income households.

"Housing in Hong Kong is among the least affordable in the world, and the problem is not the lack of land, but lack of development," Qiao said, adding TDRs could be quicker and cheaper than the government's HK$624 billion Lantau Tomorrow plan to build homes on reclaimed land.

"Why reclaim new land at such high cost when existing land is just sitting there ready for new construction?"

The city's housing was declared a top policy priority by Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor when she took over as the city's chief executive in 2017.

〈The Standard, March 30, 2021〉Hong Kong's home prices rose to a seven-month high in February, but rents dropped to a four-year low, data from the Rating and Valuation Department showed.

The prices of homes measuring more than 1,076 sq ft rose 2.39 percent in February from a month before, while prices of homes with less than 1,076 sq ft inched up by 0.86 percent.

However, rents fell 1.02 percent month-on-month, a four-year low, according to the Rating and Valuation Department.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's luxury property market has been thriving despite the worst recession in the SAR in years amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

CK Asset (1113) will offer a 2,316-sq-ft unit at 21 Borrett Road in Mid-Levels for sale by tender on Friday.

This came after CK Asset last month sold a 3,378-sq-ft penthouse with a private swimming pool and three parking spaces at 21 Borrett Road for HK$459.4 million, or HK$136,000 per sq ft. That per-square-foot price was a new high for a flat in Asia. Incidentally, the management fee for the penthouse is HK$36,138 per month.

〈China Daily, March 30, 2021〉China's growing investment and trade ties with Israel is spurring demand for real estate in Tel Aviv, with inquiries from mainland buyers for homes in the city rising significantly, property agents said.

Inquiries from China increased from nine in the fourth quarter of 2019 to 160 in the same period last year, according to Britain-based Beauchamp Estates, which has a presence in the Middle Eastern country.

Most of the inquiries were for ultra prime property in Tel Aviv's popular districts and affluent beachfront neighbourhoods like Herzliya Pituach, the agency said, adding that there was also interest in commercial property and land for property development.

"Buyers from mainland China have been active in the Israeli market for more than a decade, but we have never seen such a sudden and meteoric increase in activity," said Matthew Bortnick, director at Beauchamp Estates Tel Aviv.