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Property News Weekly Digest
〈China Daily, Jan 23, 2021〉For three trading days in a row this week, the net buying of shares on the Hong Kong stock market has surpassed HK$20 billion ($2.58 billion) each day. And the net buying over the 13 trading days so far this year reached HK$205.58 billion as of Wednesday. Most of the capital is believed to have come from the Chinese mainland.

The southward flow of the capital is a result of excess liquidity.

The unlimited easing policies of the Federal Reserve have boosted prices of core assets around the world. Even China has implemented some stimulus measures to bail out the economy, which has raised real estate prices in some cities and share prices of some companies, creating some bubbles.

The inflow of capital to the Hong Kong stock market, where stock prices generally remain within rational range compared with that of the Ashare market, shows that investors are fully aware of the potential risks associated with the inflated price of core assets on the mainland.

〈Business Times, Jan 23, 2021〉Wheelock Properties sold 90 out of 120 units on offer at its Monaco development in Kai Tak yesterday.

The developer had received 2,270 checks for the 120 flats, making the batch 18 times oversubscribed.

The 120 units were offered at an average price of HK$24,216 per sq ft after discounts with the cheapest unit costing HK$6.62 million.

Meanwhile, Nan Fung Group has received about 5,160 checks for 179 units on offer at LP10 in Lohas Park, making the units 27 times oversubsubscribed.

In the secondary market, Tung Chao-yu, uncle of former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, sold a 2,888-sq-ft unit at Estoril Court at the Mid-Levels for HK$140 million, or HK$48,476 per sq ft, a new high of the estate, according to local media reports.

The seller, who bought the unit at HK$20 million in 1998, will earn a capital gain of HK$120 million.

〈Asian Post, Jan 21, 2021〉Real estate fund manager Kailong has bought an industrial property in Cheung Sha Wan for nearly HK$1 billion in the largest transaction in the segment since August 2019.

The purchase was motivated by the recent cancellation of the double stamp duty on commercial properties and the long-term outlook for the market, according to Ivan Ho, chief executive of Kailong's Hong Kong office.

"Protests, corona-virus pandemic and trade war - all these risk factors have been priced in. We expect a more stable future in the years ahead," said Ho, adding this was the time to look for a bargain.

Kailong bought the Hang Fat Industrial Building for HK$965 million, or HK$4,231 per square foot, and can generate a total gross floor area of 228,053 sq ft after redevelopment.

Kailong has invested more than US$3.5 billion in 52 property projects. It has exited 32 for excellent risk-adjusted returns.

〈The Standard, Jan 20, 2021〉Wharf (0004) expects to launch its luxury house project at 77-79 Peak Road at The Peak for sale by tender this quarter.

This week's quota for show flat viewings have already been filled, according to Wheelock Properties managing director Ricky Wong Kwong-yiu.

The development comprises eight villas, among which six will hit the market through tender this quarter with the remaining two put up for lease in the second half this year.

The project is developed by Wharf and Wheelock Properties serves as the sales agent.

Last month, Wharf won the tender for a residential site at Mansfield Road on The Peak for HK$12 billion, or HK$46,272 per buildable square foot, with the per sq ft price hitting a new high for a residential site in Hong Kong and beating market expectations.

This came despite the fourth wave of Covid-19 infections and with Sino-US tensions continuing to weigh on the property market.

〈Asian Post, Jan 19, 2021〉Buying or selling a property is a stressful business at the best of times. It requires the placing of trust in law firms, not only for their advice but for the handling of large sums of money.

It is the clients who suffer if a firm breaches that trust and its bank accounts are frozen. This is the nightmare scenario facing thousands of innocent people caught up in a financial scandal at one of Hong Kong's biggest conveyancing firms.

The Law Society stepped in to freeze funds held by Wong, Fung and Co on December 24 after an investigation raised suspicions of dishonest conduct. A former clerk at the firm is alleged to have misappropriated money belonging to clients.

The firm is also accused of breaching rules by overdrawing on client accounts and allowing unqualified people to be authorised signatories. The matter has been referred to police. The Law Society, in taking action, was fulfilling its legal obligations as regulator of the city's law firms. It exercised powers given to it by the Legal Practitioners Ordinance to intervene in the firm's business.

The purpose of freezing accounts is to ensure all funds still held by the firm are kept safe. Steps must be taken to investigate and decide how the money is to be distributed. It cannot be paid out until approval is given by a court.

The problem is that the clients have suddenly found themselves denied access to their cash. In many cases, they need the funds urgently to complete property transactions, meet mortgage obligations or pay stamp duty. They have done nothing wrong, yet face a desperate situation. The clients deserve more than sympathy.