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Hong Kong home sales down on cooling moves

HONG KONG: Sales of mass-market housing in Hong Kong have fallen by a monthly 24% so far this month following government measures to cool the overheated property market, the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday, Dec 30.

The number of deals for apartments priced at HK$2 million (RM791,880.78) and below totalled 3,074, down almost a quarter on the previous month, the report said, quoting real estate agency Hong Kong Property.

Sales of new homes fell to a 27-month low with just 27 properties sold, the newspaper said without elaborating.

In the high-end residential market, however, sales remained strong, with deals for apartments worth more than HK$10 million rising 28% to 3,617 this year, the newspaper reported.

Housing prices have been rising strongly on demand from wealthy mainland Chinese and low mortgage rates since the territory tracks US monetary policy because of the Hong Kong dollar's peg to the greenback.

Housing prices rose 20% this year, after rising a third last year, prompting the International Monetary Fund to urge the government to implement more measures to curb prices.

In late November, Hong Kong announced its toughest measures this year, applying a stamp duty of as high as 15% on apartments sold within six months of purchase, and tightening mortgage restrictions.

Hong Kong, China and many other markets in Asia including Singapore and India, face threats from asset bubbles, especially in the property sector, on strong economic growth and cheap money flowing in from the West driven by ultra-easy monetary policies. — Reuters
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