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Property News Weekly Digest
〈Asian Post, Aug 14, 2021〉MTR Corporation (0066) turned a profit of HK$2.67 billion in the first half, compared to a net loss of HK$334 million during the same period last year.

The transit operator and property developer had no comment on whether New World Development (0017) will offer compensation for the Pavilia Farm III delay, as there is a non-disclosure agreement.

The incident will be solved in accordance with a cooperative development agreement between the developer and MTRC, said David Tang Chi-fai, the MTRC's property and international business director.

Earlier, New World Development reported that the concrete strength of some reinforced concrete structures in two buildings of the property project were found to be lower than the specified grade strength shown on building plans approved by the Buildings Department, which is expected to result in a nine-month delay in handovers to homebuyers.

To that end, the MTRC plans to open tenders for three real estate projects located in Tung Chung, Tung Chung East and Pak Shing Kok within a year, offering a combined 4150 flats, said Tang.

〈The Standard, Aug 13, 2021〉Swire Properties' net shoots up 93pc to $1.98b

Swire Properties' (1972) net profit soared 93 percent to HK$1.98 billion in the first half year-on-year, with a half-year dividend of 31 HK cents declared.

Its underlying net profit increased 20 percent to HK$4.51 billion, reflecting the sales of car parking spaces at Taikoo Shing.

Its office portfolio was resilient, which is close to full occupancy, said chief executive Guy Bradley. Being the largest landlord in Quarry Bay coupled with the completion of Two Taikoo Place next year, he believes Swire's office projects will be more attractive amid the "decentralization" market sentiment.

He added that the group has abundant land banks in Hong Kong and mainland China, with more residential projects lined up for launch in Starstreet Precinct, Chai Wan, Wong Chuk Hang and Quarry Bay.

Meanwhile, Swire Pacific (0019, 0087) posted a net loss of HK$790 million in the first half, shrinking 90 percent year on year, as it is down-sizing non-core businesses like the marine services division to focus on three core divisions - property, beverages and aviation.

〈The Standard, Aug 12, 2021〉Midland Holdings (1200) said the number of inquiries it has received from mainlanders about rental properties through its chat system surged 6.8 times in the past three months as the start of the next academic year draws closer, leading it to forecast that rental prices could increase by 5 percent on average for the year.

Bolstering the case for the increase is that many mainlanders schooling here prefer to pay rents for a year in advance and scramble for homes even when they are above market prices by 3 to 16 percent, making them the darlings of many landlords.

Students tend to target flats in areas that are nearer their universities.

Thus, private properties in Tseung Kwan O are popular among mainland students of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and low-price properties in Tuen Mun with Lingnan University students.

As for those studying at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, units from Sha Tin to Tai Wai are often their preferred options.

An agent pointed out that many of these mainland tenants often do not hesitate to rent units with suitable partitions and designs at high prices as they can share flats with their mainland colleagues to reduce the costs.

〈Asian Post, Aug 11, 2021〉Hongkongers moving abroad have bought at least US$100 million worth of property since 2019, a year marked by unprecedented social unrest, according to a Hong Kong-based law firm.

Harvey Law Group found Hongkongers' preferred destinations were the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Their interest in finding residency overseas or a scheme that paved the way to citizenship through investment had increased fourfold in the past two years.

"From our clients worldwide, since 2019, they have bought about US$1 billion worth of properties under various residency or citizenship-by-investment programmes, and Hong Kong contributed about 10 per cent of that," said Jean-Francois Harvey, global managing partner and founder of the firm.

Since 1992, Harvey Law has served about 12,000 clients and families globally who sought mobility via residency or citizenship schemes.

"This demand had been sustained. Pre-1997 we had a small wave of Hongkongers, but in 2019 we had a perfect storm, and easily there was fourfold growth," Harvey said. Each time the city faced a political crisis, there was a rise in inquiries.

〈China Daily, Aug 10, 2021〉Wharf Holdings, one of Hong Kong's biggest builders of luxury homes, improved its first-half financial results, as strong sales of ultra-expensive residences and gains in retail revenue from the mainland bolstered its bottom line.

The company's underlying interim net loss narrowed by 53.5 per cent to HK$526 million from HK$1.13 billion loss in the first half of 2020, after an impairment charge of HK$3.65 billion, Wharf said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange. Including valuation gains and one-time gains, Wharf reported an interim net profit of HK$1.04 billion, swinging from a loss of HK$1.74 billion a year earlier.

Wharf's fortunes were helped by strong sales of ultra luxury homes. Five units of Wharf's luxury project at 77/79 Peak Road were sold for a combined HK$3 billion, or up to HK$92,100 per square foot. It also sold a luxury flat at the exclusive Mount Nicholson project for HK$490 million. Two town houses at 11 Plantation Road were leased by tender for a combined HK$2.2 million per month.