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Property News Weekly Digest
〈Asian Post, Feb 6, 2021〉The five bids submitted for a rare plot of land at The Peak were in line with expectations and hinted at optimism about Hong Kong's luxury residential market, according to analysts.

The government tender for the plot at 9 and 11 Mansfield Road that closed yesterday could fetch up to HK$7.5 billion. The land is next to 2,4,6 and 8 Mansfield Road, where some of the city's civil servants were previously housed.

"The number of bids was within my expectations of between five and seven bidders. All of them are big developers," said Thomas Lam, executive director and head of valuation and advisory at property consultancy Knight Frank. "I think it is an attractive investment, as the luxury residential supply at The Peak is very limited. Residential supply in Mid-Levels or The Peak only accounts for less than 0.2 per cent of total future supply between this year and 2025," he said.

Interest in the plot comes amid the worst contraction on record of the local economy, which declined 6.1 per cent last year as the corona-virus pandemic pushed up unemployment in the city. It hints at optimism over the luxury residential market, which saw an annual rental decline of 11.5 per cent last year after companies cut salaries and housing allowances, according to real estate services provider Savills.

〈China Daily, Feb 5, 2021〉The reduction of office space could help the bank save about US$770,000 a month It could generate HK$1.5 million a month by leasing three floors it owns in Kwun Tong

Standard Chartered will not renew the leases for eight floors at its Hong Kong headquarters in Central, according to local media reports, as it adopts work-from-home arrangements and cuts costs amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The British-based bank will also offer for lease three floors it owns at Millennium City in Kwun Tong, according to Hong Kong Economic Times. The lender declined requests for comment.

"It is a common tenancy renewal process. We are not in a position to discuss individual tenants' arrangements," Hang Lung Properties, which owns the Standard Chartered Bank Building, said in a written reply to the Post.

The building always drew interest from financial and legal firms, which had a good presence in Central, it added.

The news comes amid a rise in vacancies in the grade A office market in Central, the world's most expensive commercial market. Vacancies rose to 7.3 per cent in December last year, surpassing 7 per cent for the first time since 2004, according to commercial real estate services company JLL.

〈The Standard, Feb 4, 2021〉Transactions of industrial buildings, commercial buildings and shops rose 18.3 percent month-on-month to 581 in January, the highest since June 2019, according to Midland IC&I (0459).

But total considerations fell 8.1 percent month-on-month to HK$8.14 billion last month.

This came after Hong Kong scrapped the double stamp duty on commercial property transactions in November.

The measure also 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.

Separately, former Hong Kong Football Association chairman Brian Leung Hung-tak sold a 1,375 sq ft unit at Bank of America Tower in Central for HK$50.6 million, local media reported.

In the primary market, the Lands Department issued pres-ale consent for one residential development in January - phase 2 of Monaco development - involving 247 units, down 84.7 percent from a month before.

Hong Kong Ferry (0050) and Empire Group have received 3,450 checks for 281 units on offer at Sky-point Royale in Tuen Mun - an over-subscription of 11.3 times.

Nan Fung Group has received about 1,800 checks for 179 units on offer at LP10 in Lohas Park as of 5.30pm yesterday - an over-subscription of 9 times.

〈Asian Post, Jan 31, 2021〉Spaces in areas such as Yuen Long offer investors better value compared to prime shopping streets

Overseas institutional investors are focusing on acquiring retail properties in the city's major housing estates, as they expect businesses catering to local ?communities to stay resilient compared to the uncertain ?outlook for retailers in the tourist areas, according to consultants.

"Smart money from the US and Middle Eastern sovereign wealth funds are seriously looking for shops in major housing estates after seeing annual investment yields increase to a 10-year high of 3 to 4 per cent from the previous 1 to 2 per cent," said Oscar Chan, head of capital markets at JLL in Hong Kong.

Shop prices and rents could rebound 5 to 10 per cent this year after dropping 70 per cent from a peak level in 2014, he added.

Many international brands, largely reliant on tourists, have closed or slowed their expansion in prime areas such as Central, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui. Visitor numbers plunged 94 per cent to 3.57 million in 2020, with the outlook for tourism still hazy as the pandemic rages on.

〈Asian Post, Jan 30, 2021〉Former Civic Party chairwoman and senior counsel Audrey Eu Yuet-mee has joined the rush of opposition politicians to sell their properties amid Hong Kong's worsening political situation.

Eu's property was a 2,027-square-feet and four-room apartment in Cliffview Mansions on 17-25 Conduit Road in the Mid-Levels along with a car parking space.

Back in 1988, she spent HK$2.3 million purchasing it in the name of a company called Albacore with its CEOs being herself and doctor Edmund Woo Kin-wai.

She sold it for HK$36 million - or HK$17,761 per square feet - in mid-January, according to the Land Registry, after putting the property up for sale at HK$42 million last year.

According to real estate records, a similar 2,872-square-feet apartment on the same floor was sold for HK$60.3 million, or HK$21,000 per sq ft, in March 2019.

Eu is representing Next Digital founder Jimmy Lai Chee-ying in his illegal assembly case in connection to a protest from Victoria Park in August 2019.

She will face her younger brother Benjamin Yu on February 16, who will represent the prosecution. He took up the offer after it was turned down by queen's counsel David Perry following criticism in his home country Britain.