Hong Kong’s first property launch of 2018 got off to a roaring start, as Sun Hung Kai Properties sold all of its 118 apartment units at the St. Barths complex in Ma On Shan, setting price records for the neighbourhood.
Among the sales was a five-room unit measuring 1,352 square feet for HK$35.9 million (US$4.6 million), or HK$26,545 per square foot, according to property agents . Another 1,138-sq ft unit was sold for HK$30.3 million, or HK$26,626 per sq ft.
The successful sales at St. Barths, where as many as 18 prospective buyers submitted bids for every single available unit, indicates that Hong Kong’s booming residential property market is showing no signs of cooling off, even as the local monetary authority raised interest rates and city officials had been at pains to warn buyers of the dangers of rising mortgage payments.
The city’s financial secretary Paul Chan Mo-po repeated his concerns about Hong Kong’s unaffordable property prices at a public forum in Kowloon Tong on Saturday, adding that he was very upset about “super high prices.”
The sell out at St. Barths was mainly spurred on by the Hong Kong government’s new stamp duty bill that helped ease the pressure facing homeowners who wish to switch flats, said Louis Chan Wing-kit, Asia-Pacific vice-chairman at Centaline Property Agency’s residential department. This week, the Legislative Council passed a stamp duty amendment bill that doubled the tax-exemption period on owners who wanted to sell their flats.
“Today’s sale, mainly comprising property in the mid-range of the price scale, attracted those who wanted to upgrade their flats,” Chan said. “So the government’s move increased the confidence among buyers, encouraging them to buy first and sell later.”
SHKP had previously said the St. Barths development, comprising 353 units that range from one to four bedroom units, would be offered at an average price of HK$16,988 per sq ft. The project’s launch price was about 17 per cent above secondary market transaction prices in the area.
Recently, Henderson’s Double Cove Starview Prime sold a rooftop duplex for HK$68 million, for HK$23,600 per sq ft.
Hong Kong’s property prices have been rising for more than 12 consecutive months, making the city the world’s most expensive major urban centre to live and work in. Prices kept rising even after a slew of government measures to cool the market. Market-cooling measures were “here to stay,” financial secretary Chan said.
Still, the government would refrain from helping property buyers enter the market, as the escalated prices have also raised the risks for new buyers, he said.
“We might end up doing a bad thing by helping them, passing these people a sizzling hot bar,” he said.
The city’s total transaction value for properties, including flats, shops and industrial units, rose 34.8 per cent to HK$743.3 billion (US$95 billion) last year, the second highest level since 1997, Ricacorp said. Total number of transactions climbed 14.8 per cent last year to 83,690.
Prices may rise by another 5 per cent to 10 per cent in 2018, with 10 per cent more transactions, said Midland Realty’s residential department chief executive Sammy Po.