Tuesday, May 25, 2010

State auction site goes for HK$1.33b

It is second sale to fetch less than what surveyors had forecast

(HONG KONG) A building site in Hong Kong sold for HK$1.33 billion (S$240 million) yesterday, the second government auction this year that failed to meet surveyor forecasts as the city releases more land to ease concern about a property bubble.

The government auctioned an 8,900 square metre site in the Fanling area of the New Territories in northern Hong Kong that was forecast to fetch HK$1.32 billion to HK$1.45 billion, with HK$1.37 billion the median price, according to estimates of four surveyors compiled by Bloomberg.

Hong Kong's home prices have jumped 41 per cent since the end of 2008, spurring concerns that affordable housing is out of reach of ordinary residents. Hong Kong's government on May 12 pledged to keep boosting land supply as it tries to cool the property market, a day after its first auction of the fiscal year fetched almost a third less than surveyors' estimates.

'There could be more government policies coming as it shows determination to bring down prices,' said Alnwick Chan, executive director at property consultant Knight Frank LLP before the auction.

Developers must build a minimum gross floor area of 34,290 square metres on the Fanling site.

Fanling doesn't offer sea views and is near an industrial estate, unlike the previous auction in Tung Chung, said James Cheung, director of Centaline Surveyors, a unit of one of the city's biggest property agencies. He estimated that Fanling would sell for HK$1.32 billion, 16 per cent lower than his original estimate of HK$1.57 billion prior to the Tung Chung sale.

The first auction of this fiscal year, conducted on May 11, fetched HK$3.42 billion, a third less than the median HK$4.75 billion estimate of three surveyors.

Nan Fung Development Ltd, a privately held developer controlled by billionaire Chen Din Hwa, outbid only two other builders in the auction that analyst Adrian Ngan of CCB International Securities Ltd described as 'a slam' on the property market.

Developers can build a maximum of 131,000 square metres of private residences on the site in Tung Chung on Lantau Island.

Developers are more likely to build homes with two or three bedrooms on the site, said Alvin Lam, executive director of Midland Surveyors Ltd. Prices of homes in the area are selling at an average of HK$3,500 a square foot, he said.

Yesterday's auction was triggered after the government received a minimum guaranteed bid of HK$1.05 billion, it said on April 16. The Hong Kong government sells land through auctions only after developers promise to pay a minimum amount, part of an undisclosed reserve price.

Hong Kong is auctioning a site in Ho Man Tin in Kowloon on June 8 and Mount Nicholson on the Peak on July 28. MTR Corp, the government-owned subway operator, will finish taking bids for a separate site in Kowloon today.

Martin Lee, the youngest son of real estate tycoon Lee Shau-kee, paid a record price for land on the Peak, the city's most expensive residential area, on May 18.

Mr Lee, vice-chairman of Henderson Land Development Co that is controlled by his father, paid HK$1.82 billion for a 53,350 square foot plot of land on the Peak in an auction of non-government land. On a per-square-foot price of HK$68,200, the land was the city's most expensive in an auction, auctioneer Jones Lang LaSalle Inc said. -- Bloomberg

Source: Business Times, 25 May 2010

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