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Property News Weekly Digest
〈Asian Post, May 1, 2021〉Hong Kong has ranked as the world’s most expensive city for prime residential rents in the first quarter, more than 50 per cent higher than New York, with top executives of mainland firms likely to fuel further demand.

Prime rents in its most expensive areas averaged US$6.7 per square foot, meaning a tenant with a US$10,000 monthly budget would be able to rent less than 1,500 sq ft in the first quarter, according to a survey released yesterday by international property consultants Knight Frank.

In New York, tenants with the same budget could get a 2,250 sq ft house at US$4.4 per square foot on average, the survey that tracked eight global cities showed.

Prime rents in Singapore and London averaged US$4 per square foot and US$3.3 per square foot, respectively.

"We believe executives of mainland Chinese companies will provide a new source of leasing demand in the luxury residential market as more mainland Chinese firms set up in Hong Kong," said Nelson Wong, head of research at JLL in Greater China.

A 1,436 sq ft flat in Hong Kong Parkview in Tai Tam, a preferred location among expatriate corporate tenants, is available for a monthly rent of HK$72,000, according to Landscope Christie’s International Real Estate, which specialises in luxury property.

〈Asian Post, April 31, 2021〉Hong Kong’s lived-in home prices hit a 20-month high in March, with luxury flats recording the sharpest growth as investors and buyers turned bullish on the outlook for the property market.

The price index for lived-in homes advanced by 0.8 per cent to 388.3, the highest since July 2019, according to figures from the Rating and Valuation Department yesterday.

"The increase is driven by [demand for] luxury homes," said Thomas Lam, executive director at Knight Frank.

Flats of at least 1,722 sq ft outperformed the market, with the average price rising by 3.6 per cent from a month ago. Those between 750 sq ft and 1,000 sq ft grew by 1.6 per cent, and those under 430 sq ft edged up by 0.9 per cent.

Wealthy buyers, mostly mainlanders with residency status in Hong Kong, forked out HK$4.1 billion in the primary and secondary markets last month, up from HK$1.6 billion in February, according to data from Centaline Property Agency.

"Owners have reduced the room for negotiations and some even marked up asking prices after seeing a fall in confirmed Covid-19 cases from late March," said Derek Chan, head of research at Ricacorp Properties.

〈The Standard, April 30, 2021〉Hong Kong's average home prices rose for the third straight month in March to a 20-month high, while analysts predicted they could break a record high this quarter.

The private domestic price index rose by 0.8 percent month-on-month, or 2.6 percent year-on-year, to 388.3, data from the Rating and Valuation Department showed.

For the first quarter, the official home price index increased by 2.2 percent from a year ago, only 2.2 percent lower than the historical high hit in 2019.

Driven by the luxury market, the growth of home prices was in line with expectations, said Knight Frank executive director Thomas Lam, adding that the price is expected to jump by 3 percent to 5 percent this year.

Louis Chan Wing-kit, vice-chairman and chief executive of residential for Asia-Pacific at Centaline Property Agency, predicted the price-tracking Centaline Leading Index to top its record high of 190 points by July, from which it is 5 percent away now.

The private domestic rental index rebounded by 0.63 percent month-on-month to 174.8 last month. But the data fell 3.8 percent on a yearly basis. The first-quarter rental index dropped by 1 percent from a year ago.

〈Business Times, April 29, 2021〉Nine months since Britain offered millions of Hongkongers a path to citizenship, the residents of its former colony have bought £959 million (HK$10.3 billion) worth of homes in London, according to a leading property agency.

Between July 2020 and March 2021, Hongkongers bought 1,932 units or 4 per cent of total sales in the period, according to Marc von Grundherr, director at Benham and Reeves, one of the largest independent agents in the British capital. With house prices averaging £496,269, this works out to about £959 million, he estimated.

Other analysts declined to give estimates, citing lack of official data. However, buyers from Hong Kong were active in London’s prime property market, accounting for 8.5 per cent of purchases by foreigners in prime central London last year, the second-largest group along with mainland Chinese and Americans, according to property consultancy Knight Frank. The French were the top buyers, contributing 14.6 per cent to overall purchases.

"All things considered, the London market continues to present a great investment opportunity for foreign buyers," von Grundherr said.

〈The Standard, April 28, 2021〉Li Ka-shing’s global property empire is worth US$64B, 2.8 times the market value
CK Asset Holdings owns close to HK$500 billion (US$64.4 billion) worth of properties worldwide, 2.8 times its market capital, the company says in a report published in preparation for a buyback program.

Properties in Hong Kong and mainland China account for more than HK$420 billion of the sum, while the rest of the real estate is in Australia, Bahamas, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

CK Asset’s 62-storey headquarters in Hong Kong was valued at HK$33.3 billion by Cushman and Wakefield, making it the company’s most expensive property asset, said the report, which was submitted to Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing on Tuesday. Rentals from the tower amounted to HK$131 million per month, the report revealed.

The valuation firm also put the first phase of CK Asset’s luxury apartment development at 21 Borrett Road in Mid-Levels at HK$26.2 billion. A top-floor flat on the estate was sold for HK$460 million earlier this year, breaking a new record by square foot among apartments in Asia.

Another asset, Britain’s largest pub chain Greene King, currently owned £4.2 billion (US$5.8 billion) worth of properties in the country, the report showed. The business was bought by CK Asset for £4.6 billion in 2019.

CK Asset’s land at the Convoys Wharf in London was valued at £195 million. The plot recently received planning approval for development, and Cushman and Wakefield put its value after completion at £2.4 billion.