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Wheelock forecasts fall in HK housing prices

HONG KONG: Developer Wheelock and Co Ltd expects prices for Hong Kong residential property to fall as much as 10% in coming months, a senior executive said days after the government implemented its toughest market-cooling this year.

Housing prices in the territory have risen by around 50% since the start of last year, with luxury apartments rising beyond previous price peaks set in 1997 because of strong buying by mainland Chinese and low mortgage rates.

To curb a property bubble, especially in the wake of a second round of quantitative easing by the United States, Hong Kong raised stamp duty on short-term transactions and tightened mortgage restrictions.

"It's inevitable that housing prices will face some adjustments as government measures will have an immediate impact on speculators," Wheelock managing director Ricky Wong told Reuters in an interview late on Tuesday, Nov 23.

"There's a chance housing prices will drop by up to 10%," Wong said from his office in Hong Kong's bustling Central business district.

However, Wong said Wheelock was not overly concerned that the measures would hit on the company's business as there were no new projects to be launched over the next three to six months.

"The government has to do what it has to do," he said. "There are extreme measures at extreme times."

He said the company planned to dispose of non-core assets in and focus on developing its Hong Kong business, with property sales for next year expected to be higher than this year's forecast HK$2 billion (RM807.23 million).

The move would will allow its arm Wharf (Holdings) Ltd to concentrate on property development in China.

Hong Kong-listed Wheelock and Co holds a majority stake in Wheelock Properties, which owns a shopping mall on Singapore's downtown Orchard Road and is a shareholder of Wharf (Holdings).

Shares of Wheelock and Co, which has a market capitalisation of about US$7 billion (RM21.91 billion), were up 0.71% on Wednesday morning, underperforming the Hang Seng Index's 1.02% gain. — Reuters
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