Sales pick up on sellers' willingness to negotiate

HONG KONG: Home sales in Hong Kong's secondary market picked up slightly last week as sellers lowered their asking prices, according to agents.

Some 261 homes were sold during the week from Nov 29 to Dec 5 in the secondary market in the 50 housing estates monitored by property agent Ricacorp Properties.

This represented an increase of 48% on the 176 deals recorded in the previous week, according to the data compiled by Ricacorp.

However, the weekly rebound left the number of deals well short of the 399 sales recorded in the period Nov 8 to 14 — before the government announced its latest measures to increase buying costs and tighten mortgage lending on Nov 19.

Other property agents reported a similar recovery during the week in the housing market.

According to data from Midland Holdings, sales at 10 housing estates that it monitors increased to 26 from 20 a week earlier, while another leading agent, Centaline Property, said transactions rose to 35 from 19.

The government on November 19 increased stamp duty on homes resold within two years of purchase. The stamp duty was set as high as 15% if a home was resold within six months. At the same time, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) reduced the amount banks could lend to buyers of homes worth HK$12 million (RM4.86 million) or more from 60% to 50% of the price. The maximum mortgage ratio for properties priced between HK$8 million and HK$12 million was cut from 70% to 60%.

Agents said more deals were done because sellers were allowing more room for price cuts following a couple of weeks of low sales volumes.

Ricacorp Properties director David Chan said end-users' confidence appeared to be recovering and he believed weekly transactions would rebound to around the 300 level after the Lunar New Year.

In the primary market, developers have postponed project launches to next year. The only launch in December is expected to be Park Nara in Yuen Long, jointly developed by SHKP and Luk Hoi Tong and comprising 173 flats, according to Samsung Securities.

While home sales are down, the number of industrial properties sold last month grew 35.9% to 836, compared with 615 deals in October, according to Centaline, making it the best months for sales since the agency started compiling transaction data on industrial properties 15 years ago. — South China Morning Post
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