Top two developers pocket HK$11b from sales

HONG KONG: Hong Kong's housing market has continued to shrug off government measures to curb speculation, with units offered at mid- to high-price ranges attracting a strong response over the long weekend.

Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Sun Hung Kai Properties between them pulled in more than HK$11 billion (RM4.4 billion) in sales since Thursday.

Units at Cheung Kong's Oceanaire in Ma On Shan were offered at an average of HK$6,500 per square foot, and the developer said sales topped HK$7 billion for the four days.

SHKP said the first batch of 132 houses at Valais, Sheung Shui, nearly sold out within three days. The houses were offered at between HK$8,300 and HK$15,300 per square foot.

"We have set a record in Hong Kong by selling 130 houses in three days," said Victor Lui Ting, executive director at Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency. The firm realised more than HK$4 billion from the sales.

Given the strong demand from buyers, he said prices for houses bigger than 4,000 sqft would be raised by 10% to more than HK$10,000 per square foot from  today. "Only a small number will be put on sale," Lui said.

About 30% of Valais buyers were from the mainland, he said. "Most are from Shenzhen where we had an exhibition before the official sale last Friday. Other buyers are from Wenzhou, Beijing and Shanghai," Lui said.

Since the start of this year, developers have sold 2,778 new flats costing more than HK$10 million each, according to Midland Realty. "The figure is the highest since 1996," said Buggle Lau, chief economist at Midland.

Developers sold 3,202 new flats in the third quarter, 1% more than the 3,106 units sold in the previous quarter, according to a survey by Ricacorp Properties.

But the total value of those flats soared 40% to HK$39.8 billion for the three months to September 29 from the previous quarter. The sharp rise came from 45%, or 1,470, of the new flats on offer, which fetched more than HK$10 million each.

The strong sales came despite government measures in August to slow the rise in the property sector. On August 13, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority cut the maximum uninsured portion of a mortgage loan on flats worth HK$12 million or more to 60% of the property's value from 70%. The government also increased land supply and banned the resale of new flats before the project's completion.

The property market's resilience has sparked speculation that Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen would do more to cool the sector.

In August, legislator Dr Priscilla Leung Mei-fun proposed raising the qualifying investment level for foreigners - currently, most are mainlanders - seeking residency rights in Hong Kong to HK$10 million from HK$6.5 million. Since the existing requirement was set in 2003 and a high proportion of the investments had been made in property, it was time to review the scheme in order to reflect changes in the economy, she said.

The Capital Investment Entrant Scheme was introduced as part of an economic revival package after the Sars outbreak in 2003. -- South China Morning Post
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