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Property News Weekly Digest
〈China Daily, Aug 28, 2021〉Chinese property hunters are returning their focus to the international market and switching their search from smaller apartments to larger properties, said realtors and developers in London.

Emma Lander, director of the international residential division at Jones Lang LaSalle, said the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a shift in property preferences, with buyers seeking more space for home working and flexible use.

"We have seen this shift in buyer trends demonstrated firsthand with a number of projects launched this year, that would have traditionally sold out of those smaller homes, have in fact seen two- and three-bed apartments secured first," Lander said.

Rosa Tsui, head of the China division at London estate agency Johns & Co, has a similar view. "We are seeing the knock-on effects of this in China, where investor landlords are seeing the benefit of taking on larger units, as those properties with extra space are commanding significant premiums and attracting quality tenants," she said.

〈The Standard, Aug 27, 2021〉Home prices rose in July, approaching a record high, as property buyers gained confidence from signs of economic revival while the government stepped up efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

Prices of lived-in homes increased 0.5 per cent to 396.3 last month, according to an index published by the Rating and Valuation Department yesterday. They have risen every month this year, for a cumulative 4.3 per cent advance. The index reached a high of 396.9 in May 2019.

"It is now on the verge of breaking the record" despite the negative impact of a stock market slump, said Willy Liu, chief executive at Ricacorp Properties, who remains bullish on the outlook. "It should reach a new historic level in the third quarter."

An index tracking rental prices rose 0.5 per cent in July, capping a 3 per cent jump in a five-month rally, the department added.

〈Asian Post, Aug 26, 2021〉The government is always struggling to find land, which is in chronic shortage in Hong Kong. And developers also have to try to find their own sites.

Wang On Group, for example, had earlier put together some plots for development, including residential projects in Aberdeen and the Sing Pao Building in North Point.

The group bought both the first and second phase of the newspaper's former headquarters as well as the adjoining car park, prime Island sites that are in the vicinity of an MTR station.

When the family of Ho Man-fat sold Sing Pao, they kept the property, including the newspaper's premises, other office units and the printing floor. Looking back now, that clearly was a wise decision.

Wang On is able to acquire scarce prime urban land because its chairman, Tang Ching-ho, has shrewd strategies to shortlist target properties.

He also has the assistance of Teresa Ching Tak-won, executive director of the group's property arm. Ching read business at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and has a master's degree in real estate.

〈Asian Post, Aug 25, 2021〉Singapore's office property market is gradually catching up with Hong Kong's in terms of rents and prices, with technology giants such as Alibaba Group Holding, Tencent Holdings and ByteDance expanding in the city state.

The gap peaked in 2017, when Hong Kong office rents equalled 173 per cent of those charged in Singapore, according to Cushman & Wakefield. The distance last year stood at 108 per cent, still in favour of Singapore.

"As the two cities continue to attract investors and occupiers, we are seeing a more defined role, whereby companies looking for more exposure to China will prefer to have Hong Kong as their regional base, while Singapore is a better location for companies looking to grow and capitalise on the emerging Southeast Asian markets," said Wong Xian Yang, head of research for Singapore at Cushman.

"Tech companies have been expanding in the city state. Examples include ByteDance, which has taken up large tranches of space at One Raffles Quay and Guoco Tower, and Amazon, [which has taken] up three floors at Asia Square Tower 1."

Mainland companies are playing a driving role in both markets. And demand for prime offices that will serve as their bases for Southeast Asian markets has reduced the gap between rents in Singapore and Hong Kong.

〈The Standard, Aug 24, 2021〉Of the 133 housing estates tracked by Centaline, 77 are yet to scale new heights, even though overall gauge for lived-in flats soared to record

Close to 80 housing estates across Hong Kong are still priced below their peaks, even though the city's overall lived-in home values recently soared to a record.

Some of the developments have seen units changing hands for less than three quarters of their previous peaks reached two or three years ago.

Of the 133 major housing estates tracked by Centaline Property Agency, 77 are yet to scale new heights in terms of average price this year.

Residence Bel-Air in the Southern district was the biggest laggard, and Allway Gardens in Tsuen Wan was the cheapest development, according to Centaline's data.