Hong Kong acts to curb property boom

From Global Edge

Editor’s note: This item is republished with permission from Global Edge Marketing Ltd. The original post can be viewed here.

Barely a week after a developer in Hong Kong set the world price record for the sale of an apartment, the authorities have introduced new legislation to dampen demand at the top end of the market.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the city’s de facto central bank, has increased the downpayment required to purchase property worth $HK20 million ($2.8 million U.S.) or more from 30 percent to 40 percent of the purchase price.

While property prices in much of the world continue to fall, prices in Hong Kong have rocketed this year due in part to low interest rates and a wave of liquidity from mainland China, where Beijing last year unleashed a four trillion yuan ($636 billion U.S.) stimulus. Developers on the island say that mainland Chinese customers now account for as much as 40 percent of new-home sales.

Limited supply

The government has been criticized by many commentators for artificially inflating prices by keeping strict control of land on the island. The government owns all the land in Hong Kong, according to the Financial Times, and releases plots for auction from a preapproved "application list" only after a developer’s offer triggers a closely guarded reserve price.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority deputy chief executive Y.K. Choi denies there are structural issues with the market. "There are no real problems in the overall property market, but the luxury residential sector is worrying," he says.

Hong Kong has managed to sidestep the troubles affecting the U.K. and U.S. mortgage markets, thanks to a 30 percent downpayment requirement on all property that has been in place since 1991.

Copyright © 2009 Global Edge Marketing Ltd.

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