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Property News Weekly Digest
〈The Standard, Apr 29, 2022〉The Hong Kong dollar may hit the weak end of the trading range sooner if the US Federal Reserve's rate-hike cycle is faster and larger, said the city's de facto central bank.

Hong Kong Monetary Authority deputy chief executive Edmond Lau Ying-pan said the US Federal Reserve may raise interest rates more aggressively and at a faster pace this year, possibly surpassing the total rate increases between 2016 and 2018. He said the local currency may slide to the weak end of the trading range sooner and more frequently.

The Hong Kong dollar is pegged to a trading band of HK$7.75 to HK$7.85 to the US dollar. Under the city's linked exchange rate system, HKMA is mandated to buy the Hong Kong dollar to stop it from breaching the top of that band.

At a media briefing, Lau noted the short-term interbank rate may not follow that of the US very closely given the ample liquidity, but warned the long-term interest rate will generally be more in line with it.

〈China Daily, Apr 28, 2022〉Lawmakers yesterday passed a temporary law which prohibits landlords from terminating lease agreements with or suing tenants of specified sectors if they fail to pay their rent on schedule.

The Legislative Council yesterday gave the green light to the temporary protection measures for businesses.

Under the bill, landlords cannot recover any outstanding rent during a three-month protection period if their tenants failed to pay in accordance with the tenancy from January 1 until the end of the period.

The bill states that a landlord will be liable to a fine equal to twice the amount of the rent or no less than HK$50,000 if they violate the law.

"During this critical juncture of fighting the pandemic, we must take all necessary measures to preserve the vitality of the economy, in particular the survival of small and medium enterprises, and strive to safeguard jobs," Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po said.

〈The Standard, Apr 27, 2022〉Prices of private homes in Hong Kong fell to a 15-month low last month, government data showed, but market watchers said prices have bottomed out and will rebound in the second quarter.

The private home price index fell 2.7 points, or 0.7 percent month-on-month to 381.3 points last month amid the fifth Covid wave, data from the Rating and Valuation Department shows.

The accumulated drop in the first quarter was 3.2 percent and March home prices were also 2.1 percent lower than a year earlier.

Prices of small and medium-sized flats fell for the third month in a row and were 0.7 percent lower in March compared to that in February.

Among them, prices of flats under 40 square meters fell 0.99 percent month-on-month to the lowest since April 2020. Homes above 100 sq m recorded a 2.1 percent decrease in price last month from February, and also slid 5.9 percent compared to the same month in 2021.

〈Asian Post, Apr 26, 2022〉Rush of new projects for market

Competition among developers is intensifying, with nearly 2,200 units from four new projects ready for launch this month with the worst of the fifth pandemic wave looking to be over.

For the second quarter, more than 5,200 flats could be launched and industry experts said developers will have to accelerate sales as they have deferred new project launches since the fifth wave hit in the past three months.

At Kai Tak this month, Wheelock Properties and Henderson Land Development are expected to begin a rare head-to-head race for potential buyers with a combined 860 units.

Wheelock Properties's Monaco Marine at Kai Tak will launch a second round of sales today, with 112 flats ranging from 326 to 713 square feet.

The developer has released a fourth price list involving 109 units, with the cheapest flats at about HK$8.6 million after discounts.

Managing director Ricky Wong Kwong-yiu said 234 flats were sold in the first round, and the firm took in more than HK$3 billion.

Also at Kai Tak, Henderson Land Development (0012) said it may kick off sales this month for The Henley II, with a new batch of at least 31 units to be revealed soon

〈The Standard, Apr 25, 2022〉Developers are wasting no time in rushing more new homes onto the market after the government’s decision to ease Covid-19 curbs in the city helped reinvigorate the housing market following a three-month lull.

Some 800 flats at four projects in Kowloon and New Territories will be available in the coming two weeks, according to data compiled from impending launches. Wheelock Properties collected at least HK$3 billion last weekend from the first major sales in the city since late January.

The government removed some social-distancing measures last Thursday as health officials deemed the Covid-19 outbreak under some control, giving businesses a shot in the arm.

"When the pandemic stabilises, everyone will speed up [sales activity]," said Ricky Wong, managing director of Wheelock Properties.

"Developers had no way to do this in the last few months. It was impossible to launch a new project [due to the pandemic curbs]."