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Property News Weekly Digest
〈Asian Post, Nov 28, 2020〉The fourth wave of coronavirus infections is expected to drag Hong Kong's home prices down further after they "unexpectedly" fell 0.6 per cent in October.

In an earlier-than-expected release, the Rating and Valuation Department yesterday said the secondary market home price index dropped to 380.9 last month.

"Even though the epidemic was relatively stable, the property price index last month unexpectedly softened," said Derek Chan, head of research at Ricacorp Properties.

He believed this was because the economic situation - the city is mired in its worst ever recession - and high unemployment were still rattling the market.

The number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 decreased significantly in October, and the market for new homes became very active again. And in the second-hand market, some homeowners had been less willing to bargain with potential buyers, suggesting a slight rebound in confidence.

Nonetheless, it was likely that most of October's transactions involved owners who were still willing to reduce their asking prices because of concerns about the economic outlook, Chan said

〈China Daily, Nov 27,2020〉The double stamp duty on commercial property transactions is abolished from today as the market reels from the pandemic and the Sino-US tensions.

Stanley Poon Chi-ming, managing director of Centaline Commercial, expects transaction volumes of commercial properties to jump 20 to 30 percent in the short term.

The removal of the double stamp duty will largely benefit commercial properties worth under HK$100 million, particularly retail properties that have recorded a sharp fall in capital value, said Joseph Tsang, chairman of JLL in Hong Kong.

Capital values will be less likely to see a strong rebound until leasing demand picks up and rents begin to rise, said Marcos Chan Kam-ping, head of research for the Greater Bay Area and Hong Kong at CBRE.

Under the current economy, the measure may only help to stabilize the property pricing, said Henry Lam, executive director and head of capital markets of Knight Frank. "We do not expect a price surge in the short term."

The measure came three months after the Hong Kong Monetary Authority relaxed the loan-to-value ratio caps for mortgage loans on nonresidential properties by 10 percentage points from 40 percent to 50 percent.

〈Asian Post, Nov 26,2020〉Making developers pay for reclamation costs - following the approach of the City One development project in Sha Tin - will be one financing option to be considered for the Lantau Tomorrow Vision, says Secretary for Development Michael Wong Wai-lun.

Wong said yesterday there are various methods that "do not involve money from the public coffers" to finance the mega-reclamation and development off Lantau, which will cost more than HK$600 billion.

Development rights for City One were tendered in 1979 to a consortium of developers, which bore the cost of reclaiming land. Of the 56 hectares reclaimed, the developers kept 30 percent for private estates.

"For the remaining 70 percent of land, the government developed various Home Ownership Scheme estates and the Siu Lek Yuen industrial area," Wong said. "That is an example to show that there are different ways of financing."

Another development model is "railway plus property," Wong said. This has seen the MTR Corp responsible for developing rail systems and being given development rights of some areas.

Wong also mentioned issuing bonds as a feasible way to finance the massive project. A study will be undertaken, he added, "and I assure you that all financing models will be considered carefully."

〈The Standard, Nov 25,2020〉Deptford, Battersea, Mill Hill and Salford – a year ago few people in Hong Kong had heard these names. But not now – these districts of London and Manchester are on the map of people looking to buy properties in the United Kingdom.

Since the start of the protests and especially Britain's offer to accept holders of BNO passports in July, the city's residents have been bombarded with advertisements for these properties and seminars explaining how to buy them. Agents have held sales exhibitions in Hong Kong hotels, especially helpful when residents cannot travel to the U.K. to see the properties in person.

In the first nine months of this year, Hongkongers spent 305.6 million pounds (HK$3.1 billion) on prime properties in London, ranking second to the French and ahead of mainland Chinese, according to research by Astons, a residency and citizenship consultant.

Arthur Sarkisian, managing director of Astons, said that the ability of BNO passport holders in Hong Kong to apply for British citizenship had started to affect the London market, as people searched for home in anticipation of a move.

Among the biggest projects is Convoys Wharf in Deptford in southeast London; it covers an area of 16.6 hectares and aims to attract investment of HK$18 billion. Since Cheung Kong is building it, its nicknames are "Li Family City" or "Hong Kong City"

〈Business Post, Nov24, 2020〉Property gets a move on

Ant Group's failed initial public offering has set back the total size of local IPOs this year.

So people are seeing the speedy launching of Evergrande Property Services Group's IPO in Hong Kong this week as compensation, especially as the company is considered a behemoth in that sector.

Some market analysts are even describing the development as a last-minute score for the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing at the year-end.

In the past few years, property management stocks have found favor with investors. Their share prices have been doing well, so mainland real-estate companies are spinning off this segment of their business for listing like laying golden eggs.

The listing of Evergrande Property Services, a spin-off of China Evergrande Group, aims to raise HK$15.8 billion, the highest among similar exercises.

Hu Liang, the company's executive director, said two thirds of the capital raised would be used for mergers and acquisitions, indicating an aggressive development approach.