High-risk mortgages prompt Hong Kong authorities to rethink cooling measures

Singapore authorities rolled out property cooling measures just 4 years ago and while it was not necessarily a welcomed move, it was certainly a prudent one. With restrictions placed on the loan-to-value and the debt servicing ratios, home prices were kept from escalating. Now Hong Kong could also be considering doing the same as their real estate market skyrockets. The worry is that property prices could become unsustainable and a property bubble could grow and subsequently burst with disastrous consequences.

hongkongpropertyThe rapidly increasing number of high loan-to-value mortgages taken out on properties have had the de facto central bank of Hong Kong concerned. Property developers and individual buyers alike, these high-value loans are creating a growing list of high-risk financial profiles. Some developers have even taken out mortgages worth 120 per cent of the project’s value. Developers such as Sun Hung Kai Properties and Cheung Kong Property have been offering incentives such as tax rebates and loan offers in attempts to attract buyers.

Despite the Hong Kong government implementing higher taxes on properties last November, property prices have continued to climb and increased home buyers’ borrowing costs. Many buyers have not only been putting all their assets into property purchases, but also their parents’ monies and all that will be at risk should the bubble burst. Some buyers have even been leveraging on their parents’ properties in order to fulfil residential deposits. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) is keeping a close eye on the situation and may move to enforce new regulations on banks should there be any undue changes.

 

China’s top-tier cities post continued growth

2016 has been quite the year for China’s property sector. With property booms in top-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, overall investment in the country’s real estate rose by 6.9% last year.

chinaSince the property sector is one of China’s main sources of economic growth, and her economy did grow by 6.7% last year, fuelling 40 other main business sectors in the country, economists, the China government would no doubt hope for continued success this year. But there have been concerns that the pressure on the property bubble is building up and might be reaching bursting point.

Despite the government’s attempts to cool the market with rapid and frequent policy changes over the past couple of years, property investment growth has hit a 11.1 per cent high last December, up from the 5.7 per cent in the month before. Though home prices in some cities have began to fall slightly, analysts are seeing that market sentiments are hardly sensitive to policy shifts. Should the policies stick, any significant changes will only come with time. As most investors consider property-ownership the most feasible and desirable means of adding to their income, demand in top-tier cities remain high despite soft price growth.

GuosonCentreRecent shifts on the international front however may mean continued growth in the real estate market within China as more investors look inward, what with the Trump administration turning things on its head with his trade agreements changes. It may be in the government’s interest to acquire land revenue while keeping an eye on a burgeoning real estate sector which on the plus side will boost economic growth but may cause bigger issues later on if allowed to continue on its upward trajectory.

Hong Kong’s property prices expected to rise further

As one of Asia’s, if not the world’s, most expensive cities to live and work in, it comes as no surprise that the real estate in Hong Kong is one of the world’s costliest.

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Photo credit: www.onekt.com.hk

Despite the Hong Kong government‘s repeated attempts to cool the market, with implementation of stamp duties and laying down of other purchasing restrictions, property prices in Hong Kong have continued to climb. And things could be heating up even more this year as even Mr Li Ka Shing, the country’s richest man, predicts the market still have room for property prices to climb further. In November last year, private property prices reached a peak unseen since 1979 when the data was made available by the city’s rating and valuation department.

Although there has been some political unrest, mostly civil, in the city and interest rates have been on the rise, there is still space apparently, for slight rise in prices this year. It will not be a smooth ride up, but there will be increments made nonetheless. China Overseas Land and Investment for example has listed the prices of their latest private residential development in the former Kai Tak airport area for almost 20 per cent higher that the same which were sold in August. In a city where liveable land is scarce, developers have been known to pay exorbitant prices for land sites, for example the record ids for sites in the same Kai Tak airport area for US$1.8 billion or S$2.58 billion.

 

Hong Kong’s red-hot real estate calls for new cooling measures

The pace and amplitude of Hong Kong’s rising property prices, in particular over the last couple of years, have seen the authorities taking proactive steps to cool it. Despite a move to increase stamp duties 3 years ago, prices have continued to climb. In September this year, prices surged once more, after 6 consecutive months of increase, to clock at a record high for the year.

hongkongpropertyHong Kong is already considered one of the most expensive Asian cities to live in, and current cost of real estate plus the high standard of living, has placed many housing options out of reach for the average citizen. Now, with experts predicting further price increase for the rest of the year, the Hong Kong government has once again raised stamp duties on property transactions.

Stamp duties will be raised 15 per cent for all transactions, up from the current 8.5 per cent. This change only affects citizens however, as foreign buyers are already paying a 15 per cent stamp duty. This will hopefully deter property flipping for the populous though the wealthy may still transact within the luxury property sector. ManyWi mainland buyers prefer to hedge heir funds in the Hong Kong real estate sector and have thus negated the effect of the Hong Kong government’s properties cooling measures.

The_Mediterranean_Hong KOngTo help the common man secure housing, first-time home buyers will only be charged a maximum 4.25 per cent stamp duty, dependent in the property value. This latest move is one of the government’s attempts to cool the red-hot property market before financial instability sinks in and causes more chaos to their economy.

 

Hong Kong’s property market strong despite cooling measures

Unlike Singapore where the public housing sector is strong and almost 80 per cent of the population lives in a Housing Board (HDB) flat, in Hong Kong only 21 per cent live in a public housing unit and even then, it takes them a minimum of 3 years for a successful application. Though both cities have large population, the density is higher in Hong Kong where land restrictions are greater and unlike Singapore, they hardly have means of reclaiming land and expanding liveable space vertically is one of their only solutions. It comes as no surprise then, that unit sizes and liveable floor areas are shrinking.

hongkongpropertyMany could say that Hong Kong’s real estate fluctuations is very much like its undulating terrains, with steep climbs and equally slippery downhill slopes. Property cooling measures were rolled out in Hong Kong in 2012, around the same time as curbs were implemented in Singapore as well. But it still takes an average Hong Kong household 19 years to save up enough to purchase their own home compared to the 5 years for a Singaporean household.

Though property prices did fall in February, they rebounded to the levels comparable to 2015’s peak in September this year, possibly indicating renewed interest in Hong Kong real estate from mainland buyers. Numbers seem to show that more mainland Chinese are favouring Hong Kong properties over Singapore properties, possibly since Singapore’s property market has been seeing consecutive quarters of muted growth since last year.

 

The true value of Hong Kong homes?

Property prices in Hong Kong are at a record high, and there are no signs of it letting up anytime soon. Or does there?

From the number of foreclosures on properties surging to a 5-year high, buyers seem to be struggling to cope with high-interest home loans, almost impossible property prices and a weakening economy. Although a property bubble has yet to occur, cracks in the market seem to be showing as the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) points to a growing number of homes whose value are lower than their original price tag.

Park yoho venezia Hong Kong propertyBy the end of 2016’s first quarter, 1,432 homes were already under the foreclosure hammer, and their value – a whooping HK$4.9 million (S$852.5 million). As the Hong Kong government has a strictly-regulated banking system and with 7 rounds of property cooling measures already in place, home buyers and investors have been borrowing from unregulated sources such finance firms and real estate developers, some up to 95 per cent.

Analysts are concerned that the household debt is at 70 per cent and more investors and home owners have been using their properties are collateral for other transactions such as stock trading. As the global and local economy shake, they find themselves in deep hot water. What will the near future hold for Hong Kong’s property market? Is a bubble brewing and is there a danger of the 2008 recession?

 

Singapore property market on the mend?

Is Singapore’s property market finally bottoming out? Are current property prices the lowest they can go?

WhitehavenHong Kong and Singapore are 2 of Asia’s most expensive residential property markets, and while both countries’ governments have implemented property cooling measures to help abate the tension, prices remain high. Though Singapore’s property price spike of 92 per cent in the decade between 2003 and 2013 was not as drastic as Hong Kong’s 370 per cent in the same time period, housing cost has increased considerably and was much fodder for debate during the past 2 elections. While home prices have fallen 1.2 percent in Singapore and 13 per cent in Hong Kong since September 2015, the fall will have to be much more drastic for the situation to return to what it was before 2003.

Taking inflation, economic growth and global economics into consideration, property analysts feel that Singapore’s property cycle has almost reached its bottom or turning point as it is in a much more advanced state than Hong Kong’s. Considering the gentle slope of decline in Singapore’s property prices, a sharp rebound seems unlikely. Will there however be a glimmer of hope for a gradual increase upon policy changes and changes in the demand and supply scale?

Rents dip for Hong Kong’s luxury properties

The shaky global economic situation may have a wider effect than just the countries directly hit. The effects of cutbacks and job losses in the oil, gas and banking sectors have resounded worldwide. The flow of expatriates between countries have decreased and those who are still living overseas have found their housing allowances slashed considerably.

HKCEntralThis has in turn reduced the demand for property rental, mostly in the luxury sector. Besides  Singapore, Hong Kong is also feeling the effect of change. In Hong Kong, monthly rental budgets of expatriates have gone down to approximately HK$100,000 and below. Gone are the days when expats could easily afford a HK$300,000 per month rental. In fact, most are making do with HK$30,000 per month housing budget for individuals and HK$70,000 for families, which barely allows for a 550 sq ft apartment in the Central district.

Housing prices which have shot through the roof in September has since fallen 14 per cent and high-end properties at Victoria Peak have suffered the largest blow. Rental prices have fallen in some cases as much as 30 per cent. But considering the rise in property rents have risen steadily year by year for the past decade, it may not be as drastic as it seems.

HongKongPeakHowever, does this mean that smaller and middle-range private apartments are benefitting from the trickle-down effect? Are expats now looking at a whole new range of property types which could mean fatter pockets for landlords and developers willing to fit into their budget? In fact, some developers have already begin offering discounts in the form of offering a month’s rent for free.