Tuesday, July 6, 2010

HK home sales hit 14-month low in June

(HONG KONG) Hong Kong's home sales fell to the lowest level in 14 months in June, as the city's government tried to rein in rising prices with rules on new home sales.

Total sales of residential units fell to HK$33 billion (S$5.9 billion) last month from HK$42.8 billion in May, the Land Registry said on its website yesterday.

By volume, the number of residential units changing hands declined to 9,130 in June from 11,014 in May, according to the government department.

Hong Kong has been stepping up measures to curb home prices that have increased 8 per cent this year, adding to the 29 per cent advance in 2009.

Apart from raising stamp duty on luxury home transactions and increasing land supply, the government is also clamping down on developers' sales tactics to boost transparency.

'The fall is like a hiccup in the market in response to government's rules on new home sales announced in April,' Nicole Wong, a Hong Kong-based regional head of property research at CLSA Ltd, said yesterday in an interview.

'There is no means for the government to reverse the imbalance resulting from short-term supply shortages,' Ms Wong said.

Ms Wong expects home price in the city will rise 15 per cent for 2010.

Today's sales from the Land Registry is a 'lagging indicator' of the property market as it showed data of transactions made in April and May, Ms Wong said.

The government asked developers to provide a show flat that will be in the exact same condition as when the home is built and ready for delivery, and to publish asking prices three days before starting to sell unfinished apartments, Financial Secretary John Tsang said on April 21.

Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd, the city's biggest developer by market value, on June 8 paid HK$10.9 billion for a residential site in the Ho Man Tin district.

The price, which beat a Bloomberg News estimate by 30 per cent, is the highest paid in a government auction in urban Hong Kong since the market peaked in 1997.

'The record land sale in Ho Man Tin in June has boosted the housing market again,' Buggle Lau, chief property analyst at realty company Midland Holdings Ltd, said in Hong Kong. 'I expect the home sales volume will go up in July,' he added.

Hong Kong's home prices rose to the highest in five weeks, Centaline Property Agency Ltd said on July 2.

The index of existing home prices rose to 80.12 as of June 27, compared with 79.12 a week earlier, according to Centaline, one of the city's biggest property agencies. -- Bloomberg

Source: Business Times, 6 Jul 2010

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