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Property News Weekly Digest
〈Asian Post, Feb 13, 2021〉UK home prices reach decade high

Demand from HK and a rush to beat a higher tax send houses to their most unaffordable in 10 years

A combination of foreign demand, including from emigrating Hongkongers, and a rush to beat a higher property tax, pushed British home prices to their most unaffordable level in 10 years, according to a study by a London-based real estate agency.

Benham and Reeves analysed the average house price to income ratio based on average property values and the average net salary over the last 10 years. While Britain's average net salary grew to 25,123 (HK$268,500) in 2020, the average house price was nearly 10 times more at 249,633, corresponding to a price to income affordability ratio of 9.94, meaning a minimum of a year's salary is needed for the average deposit.

The affordability ratio has increased from 8.16 in 2011, with London remaining the least affordable with a score of 15.74.

"The UK's house price to income ratio reached its highest point in a decade by the end of 2020, no doubt driven by a steep jump in house prices brought about by the … stamp duty holiday," said Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves.

〈Apple Daily, Feb 12, 2021〉Workers demand US$3.87m in unpaid fees for constructing Jack Ma’s Hong Kong house

Workers have staged a protest outside the new Hong Kong house of Jack Ma, one of China’s richest men, to demand HK$30 million (US$3.87 million) in unpaid fees and wages.

Ma bought the property on 22 Barker Road on the Peak at HK$1.5 billion in 2015 and redeveloped it into a four-story house encompassing 12,680 square feet. Work on the house has been completed, and it has since entered the inspection stage.

But Paul Y. Engineering, the contractor responsible for the redevelopment, has yet to pay its subcontractors and workers HK$30 million in wages, material costs and other fees. The money has been owed since last August, according to a subcontractor identified as Chiu.

Paul Y. Engineering issued a HK$2.5 million check to a subcontractor last month, which was then divided between around 10 of its hired workers, Chiu said. The money was only enough to pay a month of the workers’ wages.

Some subcontractors have paid out of pocket for workers’ wages before receiving money from Paul Y. Engineering and, as a result, have no funds for themselves, Chiu said. Chiu has yet to receive HK$1 million from Paul Y. Engineering.

〈The Standard, Feb 11, 2021〉Rent increases for partitioned flats should be capped via standardized contracts, a task force will recommend to the government when it submits its report next month.

The chairman of the Task Force for the Study on Tenancy Control of Subdivided Units, William Leung Wing-cheung, said members expressed a preference for regulating rent increases, but not the initial rent landlords charge tenants.

"After considering advice from legal experts who said private property rights are safeguarded under the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights, our proposal will not use vigorous measures to control the rent of subdivided flats," Leung said.

"This would allow the policy to be implemented in a short period of time and avoid legal challenges."

Leung said the task force expressed a preference for having landlords sign a standardized contract that will clearly state the rental period, increases in rent, responsibility for repair and maintenance, and utility fees.

The standardized contract will prevent landlords from overcharging with fees, said Leung. However, details on the percentage increase in rent and the minimum time in between still have to be hammered out by the task force.

〈China Post, Feb 10, 2021〉Many members of the foreign community may choose to invest in local real estate due to Taiwan's good geographic location in Asia, its democratic system and freedom of speech and the press, as well as its relatively good management of the COVID-19 crisis.

According to statistics provided by the Land Administration Department of New Taipei City, the number of foreigners acquiring real estate in 2020 is the same as the previous year, and among the 29 administrative districts, Tamsui in New Taipei is the most favored.

The Land Administration Bureau believes that with the MRT system and the future construction of a bridge between Tamsui and Bali, transportation has become more convenient than ever.

In addition, the beautiful riverside view provides a variety of leisure and entertainment facilities, which is very much in line with the lifestyle and environment most foreigners are accustomed to.

According to the department's statistics, the largest number of foreigners buying properties last year came from Hong Kong, which accounted for 45 percent, while the second-largest number came from Malaysia, accounting for 10 percent.

〈Asian Post, Feb 9, 2021〉K Wah to invest HK$12b in Nanjing project as firms seek slice of major state development plan

Hong Kong and mainland property developers are pushing ahead with their strategy in the Yangtze River Delta, investing billions of yuan in a spate of deals to take advantage of Beijing's hopes for the economic powerhouse.

K Wah International Holdings, chaired by Hong Kong's fifth-richest man Lui Che-woo, said last Friday it would invest about 10 billion yuan (HK$12 billion) in a proposed residential and commercial project in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province.

The Yangtze plan, revealed by President Xi Jinping in August 2019, covers Shanghai and the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui, which make up the most densely populated and affluent region in China.

"I expect to see more capital flow and or be reinvested by businesses looking to set up new operations or expand existing operations in the Yangtze River Delta, with this capital investment being driven by infrastructure development, growing innovation and increasing market size," said Shaun Brodie, head of occupier research for Greater China at Cushman & Wake-field.