Saturday, September 1, 2012

Hong Kong in bid to limit homebuyers from mainland


HONG KONG - Hong Kong's leader on Thursday announced measures to prioritise the property market for locals, after years of price rises attributed to an influx of wealthy buyers from mainland China.

Chief executive Leung Chun-ying said he had instructed officials to draft laws to restrict sales of certain properties only to the seven million Hong Kong residents under a so-called "Hong Kong land for Hong Kong people" policy.

"This is to give priority to the housing need of the local residents," said Leung, who took office in July after winning an election on a platform that included pledges to boost public housing supply.

"We will continue to monitor the property market closely and introduce more measures if necessary," he added.

The measures include boosting land supply by converting 36 sites meant for government and public use to residential use to provide space for nearly 12,000 residential units, Leung told reporters.

Leung's 10-point plan also includes speeding up approval for permits for private home sales, to provide 65,000 additional units over the next three to four years.

The southern Chinese city has been trying to tackle its ever-rising property prices, which has made home ownership beyond the reach of even the upper middle class and has further fuelled public discontent.

Property prices in Hong Kong, famous for its sky-high rent and super-rich tycoons, have surged over the past few years due to record low interest rates and the flood of wealthy people from mainland China snapping up homes.

Analysts, however, said the measures were inadequate to help tame the housing market.

"While the pledge to introduce more land in order to improve longer-term supply is welcome, the immediate impact appears limited, judging by the small amount of supply that will come through soon," Standard Chartered said.

"Overall, we think the latest measures will at best help to calm the market," the bank added in a research note.

The city's average home prices have risen about 13 percent so far this year, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

A luxury apartment in the city was reportedly sold for a record HK$470 million (US$61 million) recently, making it the priciest condominium in Asia and the world's second most costly apartment outside London's One Hyde Park.

  
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