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Property News Weekly Digest
〈Business Times, Jan 9, 2021〉ESTATE agents in the UK expect a flurry of residential property purchases in the first quarter of this year despite the nation's severe lockdown restrictions due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

They are optimistic because of the expectation that millions of vaccinations will begin to re-ignite the distressed economy, and the fact that stamp duty subsidies will end on March 31.

Investors are also buying again because they believe that inflation will begin to accelerate within a year or two.

Estate agents and property purchase consultants, however, have mixed feelings about the medium and long-term outlook for residential property prices.

Marc Schneiderman, director of Arlington Residential, an agent who specialises in prime London property, recalled that after the first lockdown was relaxed last summer, "the market caught fire".

〈Asian Post, Jan 8, 2021〉Some luxury retailers are considering relocating their regional headquarters to the mainland from Hong Kong to be close to their major growth market, which could add further pressure on office rents in the city, according to market observers.

They said brands including Versace, Salvatore Ferragamo, and LVMH-owned Bulgari, Fendi, Givenchy and Celine reduced headcounts in their Hong Kong headquarters last year and shifted more resources across the border.

Beauty conglomerate L'Oreal was also planning to downsize its Hong Kong office and move positions to the mainland and Singapore, while French shoe brand Ash would move operations to Shanghai, the sources said. A few others were waiting for border restrictions to ease.

Many of the big luxury brands are seriously pondering the issue, according to Simon Smith, senior director of research and consultancy at Savills.

"Should they be closer to their biggest emerging market? Or should they remain, as they have done traditionally, in Hong Kong? I think a lot of them are looking to China, particularly Shanghai," he said.

〈The Standard, Jan 8, 2021〉Wheelock Properties opened show flats for Monaco in Kai Tak today and plans to launch sales next week.

The developer will release the first price list today. Monaco is expected to be the first new project to kick off sales in the primary market this year. The project offers 399 units, ranging from 280 to 760 square feet.

In the same district, Henderson Land Development (0012) applied for presale consent for the second phase of 7 Muk Tai Street Project, which will offer 301 units.

The Lands Department issued a total of 33 presale consents for residential developments involving 12,898 residential units in 2020.

In Cheung Sha Wan, Vanke Property (Hong Kong) released 47 units in the fifth price list of The Campton on Thursday, at an average price of HK$19,511 per sq ft after discounts, 18.88 percent higher than the first price list. The cheapest flat, measuring 272 sq ft, is offered at HK$5.14 million, or HK$18,908 per sq ft after discounts.

In Tseung Kwan O, two homebuyers forfeited deposits of about HK$1.05 million and HK$906,700, after canceling the purchase of flats at Malibu in Lohas Park.

〈Asian Post, Jan 6, 2021〉Prices in developments targeting middle-income earners show big falls in November, but investors need to move fast before market picks up again

Homes in housing estates catering to middle-income earners currently offer the best value for bargain hunters in Hong Kong, according to analysts.

Among 50 housing estates tracked by Ricacorp Properties, Lake Silver in Ma On Shan, Island Resort in Siu Sai Wan, Ocean Shores in Tiu Keng Leng and Park Avenue in west Mong Kok saw the biggest pullback in November year on year, with home prices at those locations dropping by between 7.4 per cent and 7.7 per cent in the month, compared with the citywide equivalent of 1.3 per cent, based on the index from the Rating and Valuation Department.

Increasing emigration, coupled with shrinking headcounts at multinational companies operating in the city, are behind the declines, but would-be buyers will need to act quickly if they want to land a bargain with prices set for a rebound later in the year as efforts to control the coronavirus pandemic bear fruit.

"The number of emigrants in the last year has increased, and those who are rushing to sell are more willing to negotiate and offer bigger discounts," said Derek Chan, head of research at Ricacorp.

〈The Standard, Jan 5, 2021〉Mid-Levels launch to test luxury demand

CK Asset (1113) expects to launch sales of a long-awaited luxury project at the Mid-Levels in the first quarter of 2021, in an indication of confidence in the luxury market.

The first phase of 21 Borrett Road offers 115 units measuring between 2,075 square feet to 3,378 sq ft.

The developer had delayed sales of the project in August 2019 amid social unrest, and the luxury property market has been reeling from the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections and the economic downturn.

Also in the primary market, Nan Fung Group has won pre-sale consent for LP10 at Lohas Park, and expects to release the first price list for the project this month.

Meanwhile, the number of mortgage loans on completed flats rose 42.9 percent year-on-year to 9,133 in December, according to mReferral Mortgage Brokerage Services.

Separately, the number of licensed real estate agents in Hong Kong rose to 40,802 last month from 40,284 in November, hitting a new high, data from the Estate Agents Authority showed.