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Property News Weekly Digest
〈Asian Post, May 20,2022〉Hong Kong's banks are working with mortgage brokers and developers to offer attractive cash rebates, limited-edition Octopus cards and even a Tesla as a lottery prize to boost new home sales and loans, after a slowdown in property activity in the first quarter due to the fifth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

mReferral Mortgage Brokerage Services and Centaline Mortgage Broker are offering prospective buyers mortgage plans with a cash rebate of up to 1.6 per cent for Country Garden’s Allegro residential project in Kowloon City, which goes on sale on Saturday.

The mortgage rates are the “same as last year, but the cash rebate is slightly raised”, said Eric Tso Tak-ming, chief vice-president at mReferral.

〈Business Post, May 19,2022〉Mass residential prices are seen to drop around 5% this year on the back of the dampened sentiment in the first quarter (Q1) of 2022, real estate services firm, JLL Hong Kong, said.

In a statement, JLL’s Hong Kong residential sales market monitor revealed that the current mass residential prices went down by 3.2% quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) in Q1 2022 which was driven by the fifth wave of COVID-19.

It then downgraded its forecast for 2022 mass residential market capital values to decrease 5% compared to its previous forecast that it would rise 0% to 5%.

Despite the decrease in mass residential capital values, JLL Hong Kong Chairman Joseph Tsang said he expects the activity level in the housing market to recover to a high level similar to last year due to pent-up demand from potential buyers.

〈Asian Post, May 18, 2022〉JLL's Hong Kong Residential Sales Market Monitor showed any property value boosting effects will only become more visible when the pandemic stabilises in the latter half of the year.

This comes after the Hong Kong Government's announced it will raise property values eligible for 90% LTV-ratio loans and 80% LTV-ratio loans to $10m and $12m, respectively.

According to JLL, the relaxation would likely carry similar effects as the previous Mortgage Insurance Programme (MIP) adjustment announced in October 2019 and could strengthen housing market sentiment and boost both transaction volume and prices.

While the latest arrangement is expected to benefit the overall housing market, some segments will benefit disproportionately. Specifically, the down-payment required for units priced between $10m and $12m will drop significantly from 50% to 20% of the property value, allowing upgraders to take on pricier options. Properties falling in this price range will likely benefit the most when the effects come into place.

〈Asian Post, May 18, 2022〉Investors have raised questions about the viability of Festival Walk, the upmarket Hong Kong shopping centre owned by a unit of Singapore’s Temasek Holdings.

Rents in Festival Walk are likely to stabilise or decrease slightly this year even as the company continues to bet on Hong Kong’s viability as an investment destination, according to Mapletree Commercial Trust (MCT), another Temasek subsidiary, which is merging with Mapletree North Asia Commercial Trust (MNACT), the mall’s owner.

MCT made the assessment in reply to questions from investors who sought more details about its proposed merger with MNACT.

〈China Daily, May 17, 2022〉Amidst the tightened COVID-19 measures during the fifth wave, the Grade A office leasing market recorded positive net absorption of 276,500 square feet (sq ft) in the overall market last month as tenant demand continued to recover, JLL said.

The real estate services firm also noted that the overall vacancy rate declined to 9.1% as of end-February 2022 from 9.4% recorded at the end of January 2022. Amongst the major office submarkets, Kowloon East registered the highest vacancy rate with 12.4%.

Alex Barnes, head of agency leasing at JLL in Hong Kong, said the recent surge of COVID-19 infections had relatively minimal effects compared to the first wave of the 2020 outbreak.

"Decision-makers have been in this position before and long-term plans continue to hold firm across the majority of the office leasing market," said Barnes in a statement.