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Property News Weekly Digest
〈Asian Post, May 22, 2021〉The sales launch of the latest batch of subsidised flats drew a strong response yesterday, with some aspiring homeowners saying buying property in Hong Kong was "risk-free" despite the economic and political uncertainty.

The Housing Authority is offering 2,112 new flats at Kai Chuen Court in Diamond Hill in Kowloon and the prime location was cited by many as a key draw.

The homes measure between 184 sq ft and 481 sq ft, with asking prices ranging from HK$1.18 million to HK$3.85 million, representing up to a 50 per cent discount on the open market rate.

They are offered under the authority's Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Scheme, which is reserved for tenants of public housing flats or people on track to be allocated one within a year.

Many of the residents at the authority's sales office in Kwun Tong in the morning were middle-aged or elderly.

Lulu Ma said she was hoping for a change in luck after trying to buy a subsidised home at least three times before, but without success.

〈Asian Post, May 21, 2021〉The MTR Corporation said it would look into providing subsidised housing along two proposed railway lines, if approached by the government.

The Hong Kong-listed railway operator, which is also a major developer and landlord, was responding to a question last week by lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who asked the government if it would discuss the allocation of at least half of homes along the proposed Tuen Mun South Extension and Northern Link lines for sale as Home Ownership Scheme flats.

The MTR Corp is responsible for construction and operation under its ownership and rail-plus-property development approach. It will be granted the development rights for properties at stations by the government to subsidise railway construction costs.

"If … [we] can cooperate to make some subsidised housing, we will definitely study it in depth," David Tang Chi-fai, the MTR Corp's property and international business director, said on Thursday. "But I hope people understand subsidised housing is a project done by the government. If we, as a private developer, were invited, we would start to study the area of participation."

〈China Daily, May 20, 2021〉For as long as Hong Kong has been a concrete jungle, housing has been a key livelihood issue, and in recent years, a growing social and political problem. While we have managed to build skyward to put roofs over some 7.5 million heads across our limited land mass, property prices have been climbing and have become unaffordable to most.

Earlier this year, leading global real estate consultancy Knight Frank released a report naming Hong Kong as the world's most expensive city to live in, followed by New York, Singapore and London. This ranking, however, does not take into account the very small size of Hong Kong's housing units.

In other reports measuring the cost of living across the globe, Hong Kong has consistently ranked in the top five among cities such as Zurich, London, New York and Osaka — again, thanks to the high housing cost. Monthly rents in Hong Kong averaged $6.70 per square foot in 2020, compared to $4.44 per square foot in New York.

And given that the average living space per resident is the same size of a parking space (i.e., a mere 13.4 square meters per person), Hong Kong residents are having to contend with high rents and poor standards of living at the same time.

〈China Daily, May 19, 2021〉Zuo Hui, China’s 15th richest person and founder of the biggest online property platform in the country, has died aged 50.

The entrepreneur died of an "unexpected worsening of illness," said a statement released by his company KE Holdings, also known as Beike Zhaofang.

"We are very saddened by the passing of Mr. Zuo and extend our deepest sympathies to Mr. Zuo’s family. Mr. Zuo was our visionary founder and leader, and a leading figure in China’s housing transactions and services industry," said Peng Yongdong, the company’s chief executive and executive director.

"With our unwaveringly strong conviction of doing the right thing for long-term success, we will move forward to execute our strategy and growth initiatives, pursue our mission of ‘admirable service and joyful living,’ and continue to create value for the industry."

Beike said it would announce new corporate governance and management arrangements in two weeks. The company’s shares in the United States fell 11.4% in pre-opening trade after the news.

〈Business Post, May 18, 2021〉Some global luxury brands are switching to short-term leases and pop-up outlets in Hong Kong, taking advantage of lower rents amid soaring vacancy rates in what was once the world's most expensive retail property market.

Louis Vuitton is one such brand, with an Objets Nomades Collection show last month that exhibited furniture and homewares at a two-level store in the Pedder Building diagonally across from its Landmark building boutique in Central.

Sennet Freres, the century-old Parisian watchmaker, returned as a bespoke wedding gown couturier in December, occupying a four-storey, 8,740 sq ft space left empty since September by La Perla on Russell Street in Causeway Bay.

"We have confirmed several deals for big brands to take up between 1,000 sq ft and 10,000 sq ft in Central and Causeway Bay for terms ranging from 10 days to three months," said Oliver Tong, head of retail at JLL in Hong Kong.

The short lease is becoming the survival tactic for retail brands, especially those at the higher end that suffer the most from disappearing foot traffic and vanishing mainland shoppers, to help them pull through Hong Kong's worst recession on record.