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Homebuyers snap up units at the Hermitage

HONG KONG: Hundreds of potential buyers queued overnight to invest in the first residential development launched since tighter measures on marketing tactics were introduced - a sign people are more confident of a fairer sale.

The Hermitage, a new residential project in Tai Kok Tsui, was offered for sale at 11am on Thursday, July 1, on a first-come, first-served basis in the shopping centre of the MTR Olympic station.

Eva Yeung was among the many buyers and agents who started to queue on Wednesday at the sales office, 19 hours before the official sale kicked off. "It is tiring but I bought the unit I wanted within my budget," she said.

Yeung bought a 1,400 sq ft flat for HK$15 million (RM6.2 million) or HK$10,714 psf through a company. "It will be either for my own use or for investment," she said.

Under one of the new rules introduced by the government, developers are required to release a price list three days before a sale.

In the past, developers would only release the price list for a few units a day before the sale to test buyer interest. They would then distribute units in batches among property agents who in turn needed to persuade their clients to buy even though the flats might not be their first choice.

The price list was not required to be released in advance, leading to criticism that opaque sales practices meant buyers were unfairly paying high prices.

Another buyer, who only gave his surname as Poon, paid HK$20 million for a 1,470 sq ft unit after waiting for more than 10 hours. "It will be used as quarters for my employee," he said.

Sino Land said all 130 flats had been sold in less than an hour at an average price of about HK$11,000 per square foot. A total of 361 units have been sold since the development was first launched on June 26.

Chairman Robert Ng Chee Siong said the sales process would be slower in order to meet the new requirements.

"We have to work harder and all [Real Estate Developers Association] members will support the new guidelines," he said.

Ng expects the project would pull in revenue of as much as HK$13 billion if all 964 units were sold.

Yesterday, Sino Land said it would release a further 180 units at an average price of HK$11,553 per square foot on Sunday.

Among the 180 flats available for sale on Sunday, 165 will range in size from 698 to 1,672 sq ft with a price of HK$6.59 million to HK$23.1 million, or between HK$9,005 and HK$14,889 per square foot.

The remaining 15 are studio flats with a gross area of 415 sq ft each. Prices of these small-sized flats range from HK$4.31 million to HK$5.02 million, or between HK$10,398 and HK$12,113 per square foot.

Carmen Chung, a sales manager at Hong Kong Property Services (Agency)'s West Kowloon branch, said some buyers had immediately put their units at the Hermitage up for resale at 10 to 20% higher than their purchase price. "But so far as I know, no transaction was concluded," she said.

Chung believed most buyers at the Hermitage were end-users and the majority of them had opted for instalments in cash.

The strong sales response at the Hermitage has prompted homeowners in the nearby area to raise their asking prices by 2% to 3%, she said. -- South China Morning Post
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