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Old July 30th, 2009, 06:24 PM   #841
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Tai Yuen Street redevelopment
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Old July 30th, 2009, 08:56 PM   #842
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Price surge triggers bubble alarm
Strong rebound ignoring realities of recession and rising unemployment, warn experts

29 July 2009
South China Morning Post

A 20 per cent rebound in average property prices in Hong Kong since the beginning of the year has triggered concerns a price bubble may be forming, and similar alarm bells have begun ringing on the mainland, where regulators have started expressing concerns that prices are rising too fast.

The China Banking Regulatory Commission said last week it would act to enforce credit control policies on second-home buyers, who were required to make a down payment of 40 per cent before being eligible to raise a loan for the balance of the purchase price.

Such borrowers should be charged interest at a 10 per cent premium to benchmark rates, but lenders have recently become lax in enforcing loan limits and mortgage rates.

A day later, the Shanghai Securities News quoted a Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development report that expressed concern there were signs of an asset bubble emerging in the property market and noted that "the government is closely monitoring the market changes".

The focus of those fears has now switched to Hong Kong, where the banking regulator, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, said on Monday that new loan approvals for all types of property transactions had surged to their highest levels since 1995.

Frankie Wong Kin-shing, the chief operating officer at mortgage broker and property consultancy Pan Asian Mortgage, said the surge in demand for property could derail Hong Kong's economic recovery by leading to a market price bubble.

"Prices are now being driven by mass public demand that is overwhelmed by the prospect of upside potential and is ignoring the realities of recession and rising unemployment," said Mr Wong.

However, the surge in prices could not be sustained in the absence of an improvement in household income.

"It is an unhealthy sign. If home prices continue to rise without the support of economic fundamentals, a market bubble is unavoidable," he added.

Helping fuel the demand, he said, was a low interest rate environment that could lure buyers into a liquidity trap, as they might opt for bigger flats and borrow more from banks only to face the consequences of higher debt repayments later.

At present, the effective real mortgage rate stands at just 2 per cent and can be as low as 1.1 per cent if a loan is priced off the Hong Kong interbank offered rate instead of banks' prime lending rates.

The HKMA said new loan approvals for all types of property transactions surged 36.5 per cent to HK$38.4 billion last month, the highest level since records began 14 years ago and surpassing the HK$33.7 billion recorded in the middle of 1997, shortly before the Asian economic and financial crisis.

However, Mr Wong believed the regulators in Hong Kong would not intervene in the market at this stage, and would leave market forces to correct prices.

Paul Louie, the regional head of property research for non-Japan Asia at Nomura International, said there was no imminent danger of a bubble but that, left unchecked, prices could reach unsustainable levels.

In the next three years, the annual supply of new units is estimated at 11,600 flats, enough to cater for only half of the city's average private housing demand of 22,500 units a year.

Some analysts remain unconcerned over arguments about a bubble, arguing that the rebound in prices so far this year has brought prices back to the point where they were before the slump triggered by the global financial crisis in the final quarter of last year, and that prices are now just 60 per cent of their all-time highs before the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998.

Nicholas Brooke, the chairman of Professional Property Services Group, said he did not see the potential for a bubble in Hong Kong at this stage.

"Some of that excess liquidity has found its way into Hong Kong and is cause for some concern. But the bulk of the purchasers are still upgraders and first-time buyers in the market, and the growth that is occurring is still largely, in my view, driven by fundamentals," he said.

Centaline Holdings chairman Shih Wing-ching foresaw no bubble developing and expected that money would continue to flow into the property sector.

Nicole Wong, the head of China and Hong Kong property research at CLSA, agreed that so long as affordability remained within reach of buyers, there was little prospect of a bubble developing.

"The way I would describe Hong Kong property prices would be 'above their normal level'," she said.

On the mainland meanwhile, easier credit for speculative investment has boosted property prices.

Home prices in key cities, such as Shanghai, have shot up as much as 20 per cent.

"I do think there is a risk of an asset bubble in the property sector, especially as liquidity has become readily available and expectations have changed," said Wang Tao, the head of China economic research at UBS.

While there had been an increase in speculative investment in property, she did not think this would lead to a price bubble nationwide, as the situation varied from city to city.

JP Morgan also said it did not fear a bubble developing in mainland property prices.
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Old July 31st, 2009, 09:27 PM   #843
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Sales jump 11.3pc in the secondary market
29 July 2009
SCMP

Home sales in Hong Kong's secondary property market rebounded last week due to improving buyer sentiment against the background of a rising stock market.

Data collated by estate agency Ricacorp Properties from deals completed at 50 large housing estates shows that secondary transactions climbed 11.26 per cent to 336 from 302 a week earlier as the benchmark Heng Sang Index vaulted over the key 20,000-point level last Friday.

The strong performance on the stock market helped boost investor confidence in the property market, said analysts.

David Chan Tai-wai, a director at Ricacorp, said sales of Le Prestige - a 1,688-unit residential project in Tseung Kwan O jointly developed by Cheung Kong (Holdings), Nan Fung Development and MTR Corporation - had digested a significant portion of consumption power in the market. But the marketing of the project stimulated demand and he now expected secondary transactions to rebound to above 350 units this week.

Over the weekend 250 units were sold at Le Prestige, bringing total sales in the project to 1,300 units since its launch on July 17 and total sales revenues to HK$7 billion based on selling prices that have ranged from HK$4,100 to HK$5,800 per square foot.

The sales pace of Le Prestige, which is phase 2A of the massive residential project at Lohas Park, is much slower than sales achieved in phase one - The Capitol - which sold out all 2,096 units on offer in about 36 hours.

But market watchers said Le Prestige sales were acceptable given its higher unit prices because of their larger sizes that range between 900 square feet and 1,300 sq ft.

The Capitol is now ready for delivery and Le Prestige is scheduled for completion by the middle of next year. Without major new projects launched, only 10 transactions were recorded in the primary market outside Le Prestige, property agents said.

Along with the rising transaction levels, average home prices in Hong Kong edged up 0.5 per cent over the week.

According to the Centa-City Leading Index, which tracks prices in the secondary market, home prices have increased 20.85 per cent this year.
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Old August 1st, 2009, 10:08 PM   #844
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HK to build sewage system for better harbor

HONG KONG, July 30 (Xinhua) -- The Drainage Services Department of Hong Kong Thursday awarded two contracts with a total value of about 6.3 billion HK dollars for constructing a sewage conveyance system for better water quality of Victoria Harbor.

Speaking at the contract signing ceremony, Director of Drainage Services K K Lau said these two construction contracts were among the most important components of Harbor Area Treatment Scheme ( HATS) Stage 2A.

HATS is a major sewerage infrastructure project in Hong Kong to improve the water quality of Victoria Harbor, he said.

The system will be built from North Point in the east and Aberdeen in the west to Stonecutters Island.

The commissioning of HATS Stage 1 in late 2001 provided treatment to about 75 percent of sewage discharged into Victoria Harbor, and has brought significant improvement to the water quality of the eastern and central part of the harbor.

"HATS Stage 2A will collect the remaining 25 percent of sewage generated from northern and southwestern Hong Kong Island," Lau said.

The contracts will begin on July 31 and complete in 2014. Upon commissioning, the sewage conveyance system will serve about one million people on Hong Kong Island.
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Old August 2nd, 2009, 06:30 PM   #845
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New Harbour Plaza hotel wants staff with ambition
Personality, not qualifications, will be the key factor during recruitment

25 July 2009
South China Morning Post

Harbour Plaza Hotels and Resorts will launch a new four-star hotel in mid-October. Harbour Plaza 8 Degrees, which provides an ideal environment for both business and pleasure travellers, contains a special leaning design in the lobby that creates an illusion to make people feel as though they are standing inside the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Located at To Kwa Wan, the 21-storey hotel will be a stunning addition to the district, with two restaurants, a bar, 702 guestrooms and suites, nine meeting rooms that can be merged into one 4,500 sqft banquet room, a full-service business centre, a fitness centre and an outdoor pool.

The group is hoping to recruit 200 staff and is looking for front-desk receptionists, room attendants, account clerks, sales managers, cooks and waiters.

Harbour Plaza 8 Degrees offers job seekers who are cheerful, friendly, enthusiastic, genuine and decent the chance to work at the hotel, which has no requirements for academic qualifications and working experience.

General manager Christina Cheng said more value was being placed on the right personality, passion and attitude. "We want to create a happy hotel with happy staff, and then we can have happy guests," she said.

Candidates with relevant backgrounds and experience are also welcome to apply. Proficiency in languages will be an advantage for front-desk applicants.

The recruitment process is scheduled for the end of this month. Applicants will have to go through two stages of interviews conducted by the relevant departments and the human resources team. The whole process is due to be completed within one day.

All the interviews will be one on one, and candidates are advised to be natural and show their true character.

"It would be good for the candidates to sit down and think about whether they are the type of person that we are looking for before they apply for a job," Ms Cheng said.

She recommended candidates look at the company's website to get to know its background and updated news. "I would like to see candidates who are ready to make a long-term commitment with us and are equipped with knowledge of our group," she said.

New joiners begin their training on day one when they start their orientation programme to learn about all aspects of the hotel.

The company also trains recruits in customer service, standard operation procedures and job-related English. The programmes will run until October. Employees will be able to work with sister hotels and can expect to be part of a job rotation programme that will let them gain experience in other departments.

The group promises a career path for all staff and prefers to promote from within whenever there is a new hotel or job opening. "Existing talents can manage our new hotels better. They usually receive career promotion when they transfer to other hotels in our group," Ms Cheng said.

"I truly believe that people will never be disappointed by joining Harbour Plaza Hotels. It normally takes two to three years for a supervisor to become a manager."

She said the job vacancies were mostly rank-and-file positions. "Successful candidates will move on to supervisory level, assistant manager level and then manager step by step if they can prove themselves to be capable."

Ms Cheng, who has earned her stripes during 20 years in the hotel business, is optimistic about the future of the industry in Hong Kong.

"Hong Kong has always been an important gateway to many different countries. As a financial hub for global corporations, people from around the world will stop over in Hong Kong," she said.

She believes that the key to success is to provide guests with authentic hospitality. The new hotel will focus on getting repeat customers rather than one-time guests.

The group's hotels have an average occupancy rate of 80 per cent. Ms Cheng believes human warmth and passion help to inspire loyalty among guests from all over the world, explaining why the group's occupancy rate has remained at 70 per cent despite the swine flu pandemic.
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Old August 2nd, 2009, 11:05 PM   #846
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qualifications is kinda important too.

dont want an idiot that cant speak english to help me :S
Personality isnt that important. Everyone can pretend to be nice, and thats what most hotel ppl do.
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Old August 3rd, 2009, 08:19 PM   #847
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Junction of East and West enters new era
Chic serviced apartments, restaurants and bars bring renewed life to a diverse district famed for entertainment, exhibition centres and some of the best hotels in town

30 July 2009
South China Morning Post

Some would argue that, after dark, the southern reaches of Wan Chai have not quite shed the salacious Suzie Wong days of the 1960s. But away from the nightclub quarter, the district is becoming a magnet for many executives and trendy fashionistas seeking a place in the city.

Wan Chai is a true meeting point of old and new, East and West.

The district is home to the Convention and Exhibition Centre, an architectural icon overlooking Victoria Harbour and site of the 1997 handover ceremony. The venue hosts world-class exhibitions, concerts and trade shows throughout the year, and it forms part of a larger commercial and retail area featuring five-star hotels and government and corporate headquarters.

Along the prime waterfront of Harbour Road is Hong Kong's first dog park - a welcome amenity for dog lovers in a city where man's best friend is not allowed in public parks.

Some of the district's notorious pastimes can still be found along Lockhart Road, where modern bars, clubs and restaurants sit side by side the ubiquitous dai pai dongs.

But it is not all pole dancing and tequila shots; the district is also home to the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts and the Hong Kong Arts Centre, making Wan Chai a cultural focal point for enjoying art exhibitions, theatre, dance and musical recitals from local and touring performers.

Further inland is a respite from the bustle in the tranquil side streets featuring atelier workshops, concept stores, gourmet delicatessens and a host of coffee shops, bars and restaurants.

At the heart of this new area is Star Street, the place credited for bringing some much-needed class to the district and the catalyst for northern Wan Chai's fashionable transformation. Its success has drawn creative talent to other parts of Wan Chai, creating a new cityscape with a vibe all of its own.

Eateries such as The Pawn, a British gastro-pub that occupies a row of historic Chinese shophouses dating back to 1888, have injected new life into the district while offering a glimpse of its exotic past.

Pacific Place in Admiralty, a 10-minute walk away, is the nearest shopping mall for residents, and all the big brand names can be found there in air-conditioned comfort.

Queen's Road East, which runs through Wan Chai, features furniture stores, many of which will recreate any design you desire, be it Qing dynasty or minimalist modern.

The supermarket Taste in the Hopewell Centre is a massive international one-stop superstore for groceries, cooked food, sushi and sashimi, and much more, and the lively wet market on Wan Chai Road offers a wide selection of local produce.

Wan Chai - being the midpoint between the busy commercial districts of Central and Causeway Bay - has a transport infrastructure system that is second to none.

It takes less than 10 minutes to get to Causeway Bay or Central (and the Airport Express) by MTR, taxi, bus or tram; and 10 minutes to get to Tsim Sha Tsui and, from there, on to other parts of Kowloon.

There is also the option of crossing the harbour by Star Ferry from the Wan Chai Pier to Tsim Sha Tsui or Hung Hom.

Wan Chai's convenience aside, it is the East-meets-West vibrancy that makes this fascinating district an exciting place to live in.
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Old August 4th, 2009, 11:25 AM   #848
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Smaller urban hospitals are tonic for docs
27 July 2009
The Standard

Small urban plots rather than large tracts of land in remote areas should be released by the government for the building of private hospitals.

That's the view of medical sector legislator Leung Ka-lau.

Speaking on RTHK's Letter to Hong Kong yesterday, Leung said schools left vacant would prove ideal.

Instead, the government has suggested sites at Wong Chuk Hang, Tseung Kwan O, Tai Po, and Tung Chung that are too remote and will not attract either investors or patients, he said.

Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital deputy medical superintendent Kwong Kwok-hay agreed with Leung, saying his hospital had tried to get the old site of Lingnan University on Stubbs Road, but gave up after getting bogged down in government bureaucracy.

``The site has been vacant for years. Its location is good for our expansion, as it is rather close to our hospital,'' Kwong said. ``When we asked for the land, we were shuffled from one department to the other, including the Lands Department, the Education Bureau, and the Food and Health Bureau. So we eventually decided to give up.

``We would be happy if Dr Leung, as a lawmaker, could help us and push the government to cut the red tape.''

Leung said common sense dictates private hospitals should be built on convenient sites.

Union Hospital manager and medical director Anthony Lee Kai-yiu agreed hospitals should be situated in areas with good transportation facilities, so those who are sick may easily reach them.

He said the proposed sites at Tai Po and Tung Chung fail to meet these requirements.

Leung also criticized the sizes of the proposed areas, saying they are too big, and will make investment more costly as well as risky. ``The four pieces of land being offered by the government range from 2.2 hectares to 4.8 hectares, areas large enough for three to six football fields. No wonder it says such areas cannot be found in the urban areas,'' he said. ``But in reality, land occupied by existing private hospitals range from 0.06 hectares to 0.7 hectares.

``Most of the hospitals occupy less than 0.4 hectares. It is quite obvious an area of around 0.5 hectares should be good enough, and there should be plenty of such choices in the urban areas.''

Lee, however, said some hospitals find their current sites too small, restricting their expansion plans. ``St Teresa's Hospital on Prince Edward Road is a typical example. The location is very convenient but the hospital can hardly find more space for expansion,'' Lee said.

Both Lee and Leung criticized the government for suggesting new hospitals limit their charges to an affordable level in order to bid for the new land.

``The government seems to have forgotten the new private hospitals are supposed to further develop the medical services industry, and consequently, their charges should be commercially based,'' Leung said.
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Old August 9th, 2009, 06:55 PM   #849
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Community-oriented planning is essential
5 August 2009
SCMP

Several recent conferences have drawn attention to growing dissatisfaction with urban planning and design in Hong Kong as well as the ongoing public engagement exercise on sustainable design.

The conferences have been well attended by professionals and government representatives, with many agreeing the city needs a new "vision" - an overarching, territory-wide strategic plan (or at the very minimum a new Metroplan) within which to formulate improved urban design and development strategies.

It is only when we have an understanding of where we are going that we can plan our route, and the delivery of an improved urban design for everyone will depend on having in place appropriate implementation structures and decision making processes.

It is the failure of the latter requirement that has dominated the debate on urgently needed reform.

Hong Kong is known for its urban density. Only 24 per cent or so of available land is developed, and even in the New Territories high-rise buildings have, until recently, been accepted as the norm.

This has, thankfully, enabled the rehousing of many who were living in very poor conditions, as well as conservation of Hong Kong's splendid countryside.

However, while in the past people seemed willing to accept the status quo - mainly, perhaps, because many were not planning to stay in Hong Kong permanently anyway - public attitudes are now changing.

Many now challenge the sustainability of the "vertical density" model - particularly when it leads to the destruction of long-standing districts.

The model has resulted too often in a loss of a sense of community and built heritage, particularly when, as has happened in some of our new towns, it is not accompanied by the provision of the social amenities and community support systems available in more established areas.

We have seen the development of private as well as corporate wealth, but the community is now also demanding the public benefits thoughtful urban development can bring.

For this to happen, we need a new attitude, a new mindset, not only in government but also in the community, among our professionals, in the Legislative Council and the district councils.

The focus must now fall on how everyone may benefit from Hong Kong's urban planning, not just those companies or individuals developing or occupying projects but also those in the surrounding neighbourhoods.

When discussing how to improve the overall quality of development going forward, there will be a need to look at new greenfield developments outside the main urban areas and the regeneration of older districts.

Both need improved urban design but involve different challenges and different approaches to delivery.

Without up-to-date and appropriate institutions, roles, responsibilities, regulations and standards, it is not possible to deliver even the best laid plans.

Hong Kong is only too accustomed to seeing beautiful designs on the drawing board result in very different finished projects.

So what is needed to achieve increased design standards in new areas? The list of reforms is easy - securing them is more difficult.

Topping the list must be a complete overhaul of our outdated Buildings Ordinance and a review of the Buildings (Planning) Regulations.

Then there must be a review of the current system of gross floor area allowances and bonuses (particularly in respect of car parking provisions, which have led to additional bulk and podiums with 100 per cent site coverage).

Car parks should be below grade in order to be treated as non-accountable for plot ratio purposes, and "green features" should be provided, because they improve living standards.

Also required is a review of the land revenue maximisation mandate, with recognition by government that communities, social amenities and public realm all have "value".

Indeed, there is a need to foster an understanding of the concept of intangible value/benefit throughout the administration so that it becomes an accepted part of project feasibility assessments.

Reform is also required of the town planning system.

The Town Planning Board should become a truly independent body, with its own secretariat and legal advisers, and the zoning system should be implemented in a way that looks at the city as a whole rather than on a site by site basis without adequate priority being given to the provision of parks and other public spaces.

Our approach to public engagement must become "bottom up" so as to generate community support for a strategic vision for Hong Kong and the projects that will help with its delivery.

Finally, the way we grant land in Hong Kong needs to be reconciled with this new approach to town planning and building regulations so that they are better aligned and permit greater flexibility to adjust to changing times.

The current regulatory framework does not assist in delivering public as well as private gain, but if these changes could be achieved, there would be nothing much wrong with our traditional investment and delivery system for new projects.

Our private developers are extremely good at delivering projects to the standards set out in the statutory and regulatory codes.

Improve the codes and they will still deliver just as efficiently and to the most competitive prices possible.

Maggie Brooke is chief executive of Professional Property Services Group

This is the first in a two-part discussion. Next week's article will address the city's older districts, which are in need of regeneration and refurbishment.
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Old August 10th, 2009, 05:02 PM   #850
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilentStrike View Post
qualifications is kinda important too.

dont want an idiot that cant speak english to help me :S
Personality isnt that important. Everyone can pretend to be nice, and thats what most hotel ppl do.
Wrong. The best service doesn't come as a result of 'pretending'.
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Old August 11th, 2009, 04:52 PM   #851
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御凱 - The Dynasty
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Old August 13th, 2009, 06:50 PM   #852
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Things go topsy-turvy as HK property sector defies gravity
12 August 2009
SCMP

We're living in an upside-down world at the moment with the economy in recession and the property market continuing to defy gravity.

Take these latest examples. At the weekend, Sun Hung Kai Properties put some of its units at the Cullinan, its luxury residential project at Kowloon Station, up for sale at almost HK$20,000 per square foot. Interest was so keen the developer called a halt after 30 units had been snapped up, for fear it was underselling the project.

Hot demand for property in the Kowloon Station area has also led the MTR Corp and Hang Lung Properties to break from the tradition of sharing profit on the sale of units, to dividing them up between themselves to cash in on the properties as they wish.

Finally, a Repulse Bay project of four Headland Road houses put up for sale by Henderson Land was said to have received an offer from some Hunan investors who are willing to pay HK$60,000 per square foot, according to one newspaper report.

We know there is a lot of money sloshing around on the mainland from the 4 trillion yuan (HK$4.54 trillion) stimulus package and massive first-half lending by the banks, but the figure does seem a bit far-fetched.

Thankfully, a UBS report brought things back down to earth with an estimate the houses are worth HK$14,000 per square foot.

Culture shock

Actually, buying property in Hong Kong can be a harrowing experience for our mainland cousins.

The first thing that shocked her was that transactions are conducted with the properties unseen. For example, the party was taken to a sales office in Tsim Sha Tsui, miles away from the New World Development flats they were being encouraged to buy in Tsuen Wan.

Another disconcerting observation was that, unlike on the mainland, property developers here use more than one agency to sell their flats - she obviously wasn't impressed with the hard-sell tactics that can resemble being trapped in a rugby scrum.

But the most unnerving aspect was being photographed by the Hong Kong media - the realtors saw the tour as a perfect publicity opportunity.

"In China, reporters taking photos in a property sales office are about as unwelcome as a robbery, but in Hong Kong, property developers are worried if reporters are not taking photos," she said.
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Old August 15th, 2009, 07:02 AM   #853
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Asian property withstands the global storm
8 August 2009
Financial Times

Rents and house prices this year are likely to rise in the east, writes Ellen Kelleher

Buying into office buildings and residential property across Asia now looks tempting, as analysts forecast a price growth of 20 per cent across the region before the end of next year.

Since January, there has been a rush of deals closing in Hong Kong, Sydney, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur - with commercial property sales in this part of the world eclipsing those conducted in Europe, the Middle East and the Americas for the first time on record.

In the first six months, $48.4bn in commercial property transactions were conducted across Asia compared with $40.5bn in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and just $16.4bn in the Americas, according to Real Data Analytics, a US market research group.

The figures suggest the sector is proving resilient in the wider downturn. As western economies combat the effects of the credit crisis, declines in exports across Asia are slowing, fiscal balances appearstronger than those of western countries, and banks have not been hit as badly by the wider lending crisis.

Interest in flats and offices is now set to gain further momentum, with the Asian property research team at UBS estimating a 20 per cent rise in Chinese house prices by December 2010, and a 30 per cent uplift in the price of Hong Kong homes and offices.

Hong Kong remains the easier market for property investors to access. Those looking to invest directly in mainland China must reside there for at least a year, while property in Singapore has been affected by higher supply levels and the city-state's economic ties to the US.

By contrast, Hong Kong rental prices are nearing bottom and could rise as the economy picks up and Chinese companies rush to open offices on the island after listing on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

The improving liquidity of Chinese markets and Beijing's decision to set its GDP growth target at an aggressive rate of 8 per cent this year are also encouraging.

Simon Smith, head of Asian research for Savills, says: "Hong Kong is still the best proxy for investors looking for exposure to mainland property markets."

Apart from Australia and Hong Kong, it is fairly difficult for private investors to directly access Asian property markets. For those looking for indirect exposure, there are a handful of funds listed in Luxembourg, the UK and Ireland as well as investment companies such as China Real Estate Opportunities, Asian Growth Properties and Macau Properties Opportunities. But many of these trade at sharp discounts to their net asset value, and tend to be illiquid and with few holdings.

Two listed funds that have reported strong returns since January are Henderson Horizon's Asian property investment fund, which is up 26 per cent, and First State's Asian property fund, which has returned 17 per cent over the period. A small number of property companies are also listed on the Alternative Investment Market (Aim) but only risk-takers tend to seek them out.

While private investors looking to diversify are growing more intrigued by the region, the direction of the Asian property market is still driven by institutional investors. There has been a wave of fundraising among large property groups and private equity firms hoping to achieve rates of return that are still attractive compared with western countries.

Recent forays into the market include those by Carlyle, the US private equity group that is raising money for its second Asian property fund, and Axa REIM, the European property fund manager looking to invest in mid to high-end residential property in Shanghai and Beijing. Their moves follow fund raisings last year by Merrill Lynch, LaSalle Investment Management, Invista Real Estate and Grosvenor, the property company owned by the Duke of Westminster.

But while the economic reports being released from Beijing are rosier than those issued by the west, China's property markets have not been immune from the downturn.

A recent report from CB Richard Ellis, the property group, claims that vacancy levels in Beijing offices were still high in the first three months of the year at 21 per cent, although they declined from the previous year. The state of the market has been similarly poor in Guangzhou and falling office rents in Hong Kong can be blamed on the surge in the number of companies looking to trim expenses by renegotiating leases and moving to cheaper locations.

A bright spot, however, is the hotel construction boom that has accompanied China's growth. This year, more hotels are expected to be opened in the country than anywhere else, apart from the US.
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Old August 17th, 2009, 04:00 PM   #854
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Home prices hit 13-month high
The Standard
Monday, August 17, 2009

The average selling price of homes in Hong Kong hit a 13-month high in July as the residential property market continued to recover with prices and transactions climbing.

The average price breached the HK$4,000 per-square-foot level last month, according to Midland Realty.

The real estate agency said prices rose for eight consecutive months to reach HK$4,135 psf in July, up 3.5 percent from the previous month.

That was also a 21.7 percent increase from HK$3,397 psf at the end of last year.

"Despite the significant price surge, I believe the low interest rate environment will continue to encourage people to buy and not rent," said Midland Realty chief analyst Buggle Lau Ka-fai.

In the first 13 days of August, there were 769 sale registrations in the primary market, up 38 percent from the same period last month, Ricacorp Properties said.

The value of the transactions soared 65 percent to HK$4.75 billion.

Ricacorp, Midland and other real estate agents estimate transactions will reach more than 2,000 this month.

Strong sentiment also boosted the secondary residential market where deals reached a 19-week high over the weekend.

Sales in 10 of the largest housing estates increased 8 percent to 70 transactions from 65 over the previous weekend, according to Midland Realty.

"The strong performance of the primary market shows a strong inflow of capital, which supports the market and purchasing power is returning to the secondary market," said Midland Realty director Andy Ho Ming-pui.

Properties atop Kowloon Station were the focus of the primary residential market at the weekend as Hang Lung Properties (0101) continued to sell apartments at The Harbourside.

An agent estimated the developer sold about 80 flats, at an average of HK$15,000 psf.

The Harbourside is a joint development with MTR Corp (0066) but the two companies are now selling flats individually.
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Old August 19th, 2009, 05:41 PM   #855
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Worried residents vow to call last orders on new bar
The Standard
Monday, August 10, 2009

Bonham Road residents have turned up the heat in a campaign to stop the opening of a new bar in their area - amid fears that the neighborhood could become another SoHo or Lan Kwai Fong.

After successfully blocking a liquor license application by the Blue Goose in June - a decision now under appeal by the bar - the residents have no intention of giving up their fight.

The main body of opposition comes from residents of Kam Ning Mansion at 13-15 Bonham Road, near the site of the planned bar.

Stretching from Pok Fu Lam Road in the west to Caine Road in the east, Bonham Road mainly consists of older residential buildings and schools.

The Blue Goose - which is part of the Igor's Group - would be the first pub to open in the area.

But after witnessing what happened in SoHo and Lan Kwai Fong - which were transformed from primarily residential areas into crowded entertainment districts - residents want to nip any such moves for their area in the bud.

"Even without a pub we see many drunk people on the street. I cannot imagine how the residents, and especially children and the old people, would react should there be a pub in the area," said Harry Lam Bin-kwong, chairman of the Incorporated Owners of Kam Ning Mansion.

Lam also said residents were concerned about the noise pollution a bar would bring to the area, especially at night.

Another Kam Ning resident, Pen Chan, is dead against the bar.

"I am always scared when I see drunkards next to the building. The road is so narrow and we must pass them to get into our homes," she said.

Residents have collected more than 2,000 signatures from locals, and banners have been put up outside Kam Ning Mansion in protest.

In June, Central and Western District Council sent out 1,000 questionnaires to residents to gauge opinion on the opening of the bar.

The majority of the 300 returned opposed it.

Another survey by the Incorporated Owners of Kam Ning Mansion found 85 percent of residents against the move.

In mid-June, the Liquor Licensing Board refused an application for a license. No date has been fixed to hear the bar's appeal.

Representatives of the Blue Goose could not be contacted for comment yesterday.

SoHo, which is one of Hong Kong's hottest food and entertainment districts, used to be a residential area.

Its transformation into an entertainment hub has been controversial, and heated debate has raged between residents and the owners of restaurants and bars since the opening of the Mid-Levels escalator in 1993.

But residents' efforts failed to stop what was once simply called "South of Hollywood [Road]" becoming the bustling "SoHo" it is today.
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Old August 19th, 2009, 10:49 PM   #856
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Old August 20th, 2009, 12:36 PM   #857
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Sale of 100 flats at HarbourSide tops weekend's transactions
19 August 2009
South China Morning Post

The residential property market continues to heat up as more buyers are rushing to jump on board amid the stronger confidence in a recovering economy and the expectation that the growth in home prices may accelerate.

About 160 transactions were recorded in the primary market over the weekend, with the HarbourSide, a joint venture of MTR Corp and Hang Lung Properties above Kowloon station, topping the sales chart with 100 flats purchased. The average selling price was HK$15,000 per square foot.

Hang Lung executive director Terry Ng Sze-yuen said about 360 flats in HarbourSide had been sold since the project was relaunched for sale on August 10, allowing the developers to reap HK$6 billion in revenue from the sales.

Over 700 flats out of a total of 1,122 units in the completed project had lain empty for almost four years after its last launch in 2004 and 2005.

David Chan Tai-wai, a director at Ricacorp Properties, said the robust sales response in the luxury sector prompted developers to speed up the launch of their projects for sale, which in turn stimulated transaction volumes and strengthened buyers' confidence.

Henderson Land Development's Spectacle will soon kick off sales. Occupancy for the 185-unit project in Yau Tong is expected for next year.

New World Development will also launch its joint-venture project with the Urban Renewal Authority - the Masterpiece - this week. The development in Tsimshatsui offers 345 flats and will be completed by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, data compiled by the property agency from deals completed at 50 large housing estates shows secondary transactions jumped 14.56 per cent to a 13-week high of 472 last week from a revised 412 recorded a week earlier, with the average transaction price edging up 0.5 per cent from a week earlier.

According to the Centa-City Leading Index, home prices in the secondary market have jumped 22.42 per cent so far this year.
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Old August 22nd, 2009, 06:11 PM   #858
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Ap Lei Chau waterfront development by bextra from skyscrapers.cn :

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Old August 22nd, 2009, 07:20 PM   #859
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Ap Lei Chau waterfront development by bextra from skyscrapers.cn :

Previous updated was this complex has nine 29-32 story building towers.
Looks like it's almost topped out as the structure the high 20s now.

The complex has such a big footprint but short buildings.
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Old August 24th, 2009, 03:45 PM   #860
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Tsuen Wan - by fatshe :





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