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Old January 21st, 2010, 08:23 PM   #921
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Cheung Kong to launch $100b units
The Standard
Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cheung Kong (0001) is expected to gross around HK$100 billion by launching up to 18 residential projects in Hong Kong, the mainland and Singapore.

"We may raise HK$60 billion from sales of 10 projects in Hong Kong with about 9,500 to 9,600 units, if we can obtain pre-sales consent for all projects this year," said executive director Justin Chiu Kwok-hung.

There are five projects in the mainland that have yet to be launched - two in Guangzhou, two in Shanghai and one in Beijing - which are valued at up to 30 billion yuan (HK$34.12 billion), he added.

Cheung Kong expects sales growth in the mainland to be faster than in Hong Kong.

Since the beginning of the year, home sales amounted to HK$1.5 billion as of Tuesday, mainly from 170 residential units at the Le Prime development in Tseung Kwan O and Celestial Heights in Ho Man Tin.

The developer, controlled by Li Ka- shing, is interested in participating in a land auction next month to bid for a site in Tseung Kwan O, said Chiu.

"The site is a quality one and has a high flexibility in development. We will study the matter of whether to join the auction carefully," said Chiu.

The developer has five residential projects in the Tseung Kwan O district - Le Point and Metro Town in Tiu Keng Leng, The Capitol, Le Prestige and Le Prime in LOHAS Park.

The Tseung Kwan O site that is up for auction on February 22 offers a gross floor area of up to 67,650 square meters and open for bidding from HK$2 billion.

Cheung Kong's revenue from home sales last year amounted to HK$22.02 billion from 4,044 units, according to data from Centaline Property Agency.

Meanwhile, Chiu welcomed a suggestion by the Independent Commission Against Corruption that private sales of properties be limited to help enhance market transparency so that homebuyers will be more confident in entering the market.

Shares of Cheung Kong dropped 1.4 percent to HK$98.60 yesterday.
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Old January 22nd, 2010, 07:57 PM   #922
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Checks on all old blocks could start next year
22 January 2010
SCMP

A long-discussed plan to require building owners to have old properties inspected regularly will be introduced late next year at the earliest.

The plan, covering 15,000 residential blocks that are older than 30 years, will ask each household living in them to pay on average HK$800 for the inspection every 10 years.

Households will also have to pay HK$400 every five years for checks on their windows to ensure there is no danger of them falling. The window inspections will be mandatory for buildings older than 10 years.

The plan, developed by the Development Bureau, will enter the legislative process next month and is expected to be implemented by the end of next year at the earliest.

"Consultations in the past few years have gathered consensus that it is the owners' responsibility to shoulder the duty and costs to keep their properties in good condition," Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said yesterday.

Mandatory inspection was necessary since neglect of buildings had long been a problem and posed a threat to public safety, she said.

Once the law was in force, the government would select 2,000 buildings a year and require the owners to hire registered professionals to examine the common areas, external walls and projections of the buildings, she said. In selecting the buildings, priority would be given to the most dilapidated. Common problems such as peeling concrete, water seepage and staircase damage would be checked.

If inspectors deemed repairs were required, owners had to get the work done, she said. Checking a block would cost HK$400 to HK$2,400 per flat, depending on the building's size; repairs would cost HK$300,000 to HK$4 million per block, she said, quoting government estimates.

Owners could apply to the Housing Society for subsidies for the first inspection without an income test - but only flats on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon with a rateable value below HK$100,000 and those in the New Territories rated at less than HK$76,000 would be eligible.

The Housing Society and Buildings Department would provide subsidies and loans, some designed for the elderly, to finance repairs, she said.

Owners who failed to get their building inspected faced a fine of HK$50,000 and a year in jail. Those who failed to have windows checked face a fixed penalty of HK$1,500. Only those unwilling to pay their share would be punished.

Vincent Ho Kui-yip, a building surveyor and council member of the Institute of Surveyors, said the government should set up strict requirements and a monitoring mechanism to make sure the quality of inspections was up to standard.

The government is expanding the pool of 1,800 qualified service providers - architects, engineers and surveyors - to 6,500, but "these additional professionals may be more experienced in building new blocks than inspecting old ones", Ho said.

Sin Hoi, 79, and his wife have lived in a nine-storey block in Yu Chau Street, Sham Shui Po, for more than 40 years. A crack in the outer wall is causing serious water seepage in the bathroom of their flat. "But what can we do? There is no owners' corporation here and no one wants to pay for the repair," he said. "There is no need for the government to force us co-operative owners to do repairs, but it has to make laws to force the unco-operative owners to pay."

Ng Wai-tung of the Society for Community Organisation doubted government estimates that inspection fees could be as low as HK$400 per flat. "Even if the inspection fee is affordable, when defects are found and large-scale repairs are needed, many elderly owners will not be able to pay. Bear in mind that many elderly owners living in old blocks in aged districts are very poor. They only want a simple place to live."
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Old January 27th, 2010, 04:43 AM   #923
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In Hong Kong, Cooling Trend; Residential-Market Transactions Eased in Fourth Quarter
27 January 2010
The Wall Street Journal

HONG KONG — Hong Kong's de facto central bank said the city's residential property market cooled in the fourth quarter, allaying concerns a real-estate bubble may be forming, though it noted the city's asset markets remain vulnerable to international capital flows.

Local home prices jumped 27% last year as Hong Kong emerged from recession and funds poured into the city from mainland China amid a credit boom. To ease public concerns about local home prices becoming unaffordable, the government has said it will fine-tune its land-supply policy to avert a bubble if necessary, while other agencies have also moved to keep a lid on prices.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority said in a document submitted to the legislature Tuesday that Hong Kong's monthly residential property transactions fell to around 9,000 in December, from more than 11,000 in September.

Land Registry figures also show Hong Kong's total property transactions—not just residential deals—fell 0.7% in December to 11,112 from 11,191 in November, while the total value of all transactions fell 10.5% to 42.86 billion Hong Kong dollars (US$5.52 billion), from HK$47.91 billion in the previous month.

Those declines came as potential home-buyers delayed purchases on the possibility of economic policy adjustments following the runup in prices.

The government has recently shown signs it is willing to increase land supply. In December it held a land auction for two major sites in the New Territories, and it has approved the conversion of two plots of farm land owned by blue-chip Henderson Land Development Co. into developable sites.

The HKMA has also been stepping up its rhetoric, repeatedly warning banks about offering competitive mortgage rates. Government-run Hong Kong Mortgage Corp., meanwhile, has offered an extended fixed-rate loan program to help low-income home buyers in a move to cool prices.

Analysts have mixed views on the outlook for Hong Kong's property market. Many believe the downside is limited and mass residential prices could even rise up to 10% this year because of low interest rates and pent-up demand from end-users.

But others warn of some correction this year, because of an outflow of funds, especially from China, as Beijing has begun to tighten its monetary policy.

Hong Kong's commercial property sector has also been improving. Grade-A office rents in most key districts stabilized in the fourth quarter, while those in the core business district of Central may even rise 5% in the first half of this year, property adviser DTZ said Tuesday.

Hong Kong's overall grade-A office rents stood at HK$44 a square foot in the fourth quarter, unchanged from the previous quarter, as Hong Kong's economic environment improved, DTZ said.

The HKMA also said uncertainties over the global economic recovery and the timing of stimulus exit strategies by international governments will pose risks to Hong Kong's economy this year.

It added it will expand the types and amounts of yuan bonds allowed in Hong Kong, to develop the city's yuan business further.
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Old January 27th, 2010, 12:07 PM   #924
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The appeal of industrial sites
27 January 2010
South China Morning Post

Industrial property does not have the broad appeal of other property asset classes, but savvy investors are finding real opportunities for profitable trading at the small and large end of the market.

Among those in the know it is common to hold generally strong-yielding industrial assets for the future upside of redevelopment and repositioning when areas are rezoned for higher and better use. Indeed, many of today's developers earned their stripes by converting industrial sites and properties into large scale developments, typically offices and homes, for significant profits.

But the announcement by the government of the "industrial revitalisation scheme" late last year has helped bring the sector further into the spotlight.

There are more than 2,000 industrial buildings in Hong Kong with a total floor area in excess of 215 million square feet. At least 10.7 million sqft is vacant and/or under-utilised. These numbers indicate the significant opportunities available across the market, with the city fringe areas being the most sought after on the Island and Kowloon.

Kowloon East has been the hottest area with developers aggressively acquiring industrial property for redevelopment into office buildings for strata sale.

Interestingly, a number of large-space office users are among those considering the conversion of older industrial buildings into re-skinned, refurbished office space which allows for a single building use with the associated efficiencies and potential signage rights.

It is the intention of the government to speed up the gentrification of suburbs which are no longer relevant for industrial uses and are not "pleasant to the eye".

It is hard to quantify what effect the policy announcement had on transaction volumes in the fourth quarter. The overall sales market and also to a certain extent the leasing sector picked up significantly in the period, but this appeared to be more aligned to the more positive economic sentiment and continued low interest rates.

The industrial sector is a good bellwether of sentiment as this more closely follows the "real economy", particularly for Hong Kong which is so dependent on global trading volume and the fortunes of mainland exports and imports.

As we see it the biggest winners will be the en-bloc owners of buildings aged 15 years or more, and within precincts identified as "industrial", "commercial" or "OU(B)" (Other Uses - Business). Among these, sites which are close to the MTR and those with established infrastructure and amenities will be most highly valued. These qualities are crucial when it comes to outlying areas, because they enable owners or tenants to retain employees, a prerequisite to changing the use of a building from industrial to office use.

The rental rate available at the converted facilities will be higher than the previous industrial rents to cover the costs of refurbishment.

Hong Kong developers could also look to foreign markets where conversion is common, as opposed to demolition and redevelopment.

K Wah International Holdings adapted an old industrial building in Wong Chuk Hang named "The Factory" claiming it to be the world's first integration of comic book art with a building. Renowned Italian comic artist Mauro Marchesi tailored the "comic" features, and with his team hand-painted the facade of the factory conversion.

Our overall view of the industrial sector in Hong Kong this year is more of cautious optimism as the potential for damaging external factors is still apparent.

I am predicting a further 5 per cent increase in sale prices for strata property and en-bloc investment sales to remain about 7 per cent.

We see activity remaining robust and we expect more en-bloc deals in light of market participants getting a better understanding of the implications of the new policy measures allowing a more accurate prediction of fair value for the assets.

Darren Benson is a senior director of CB Richard Ellis' industrial and logistics services department
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Old January 28th, 2010, 05:15 AM   #925
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Bill to speed up development of old buildings
Mandatory repair works likely to encourage owners to sell

27 January 2010
South China Morning Post

Compulsory en bloc acquisition of units in old and neglected blocks in Hong Kong for redevelopment could be sped up by policy changes the government is proposing in a bid to get rid of buildings that pose "a serious threat to public safety".

The changes are contained in a bill published last week that calls for the introduction of mandatory inspection every 10 years of buildings that are more than 30 years old, and mandatory checks on windows in such buildings every five years.

The bill will be debated in the Legislative Council on February 3 and, if passed, the provisions are likely to take effect late next year.

The bill provides that owners of units in old blocks will be required to engage qualified inspectors to check their buildings and windows, and to undertake the necessary repair works specified by the inspectors.

The move follows the lowering of the minimum number of sales acceptances by unit holders to 80 per cent from 90 per cent before a developer can compulsorily acquire a building more than 50 years old.

The lower threshold will take effect from April this year.

Property analysts say as a result of the changes, more flat owners could consider selling their units to developers rather than paying for the mandatory repair works.

Tsim Chai-nam, the director of Clerk of Works Services, estimates the inspection cost at HK$4 to HK$5 per square foot, possibly reaching HK$4,000 per household if the inspection includes common areas.

Repair costs could begin at about HK$3,000 for the repair of drainage systems, rising to HK$50,000 if external walls and windows need repair.

One occupant of an old building, Chinese medicine practitioner Kwan Chi-yee, welcomed the proposed mandatory inspections.

Kwan opened a clinic in a 600 square foot flat in a 40-year-old building on Hennessy Road 20 years ago.

"This is a good policy. Many people have been hit by falling concrete and windows from old buildings in the last few years. The policy can ensure the safety of pedestrians," he said. But he worries construction firms and inspectors could raise their fees if the policy is introduced.

Sito Lai-jin, 82, who lives alone in a 500 sq ft flat in a building more than 40 years old at Fuk Wa Street in Sham Shui Po, worries about the plan. "I am retired and have no income. How can I afford the inspection and maintenance costs? I hope the government will offer a subsidy," she said.

Charles Chan Chiu-kwok, the managing director of Savills Valuation and Professional Services, says repairs on old buildings could cost unit owners from HK$10,000 to HK$100,000.

He believes the new policies will encourage flat owners to sell their units rather than pay the cost of mandatory repairs.

"Changing windows and [fixing] drainage will not help flat owners sell their units at a higher price. Spending on repairs cannot be offset by gains in property prices," he said.

"But flat owners can improve their living environment by selling their units at a good offer from the developers. It will also be easier for the flat owners to sell their units after the sale threshold has been cut to 80 per cent of the total ownerships."

Tsim said Clerks of Works would benefit from the policy changes but he worried flat owners might suffer.

"I expect many construction firms will provide free property inspection to lure flat owners. They may overstate the problem of the buildings to get more renovation jobs," he said.

Standards were another problem.

"Some construction companies may not fully repair the buildings so if the problems recur, they can get another job. Thus it is important to monitor the standard of repair works," Tsim said.

He said most flat owners might be willing to renovate their buildings in the early stage of discussions.

"However, they will have different opinions when they negotiate the costs. Some will try to lower the costs by cutting some of the works while others may insist on a complete repair."
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Old January 28th, 2010, 05:49 PM   #926
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Noted this development on Larch Street ...

[2010.01.12]

By 鄧麗欣之戀 from skyscrapers.cn :

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Old January 29th, 2010, 11:05 AM   #927
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Hospital rejects land offer
27 January 2010
The Standard

The Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital has snubbed a government offer of a plot of land at Wong Chuk Hang, one of four sites released last month for private hospitals.

This is despite initial enthusiasm from hospital executives and spending of around HK$7 million on research for its ``expression of interest.''

``All along we have been very interested in the plot of land, but after putting in much effort to research we decided not to go ahead,'' said deputy medical superintendent Kwong Kwok-hay.

``I must emphasize that we are not being fickle- minded. Rather, we are not satisfied with the restrictions placed on the construction.''

The hospital's view that government restrictions on the site make it ``unrealistic'' for its purposes stem from the fact that is has already been gazetted by the government to have the MTR underneath.

According to hospital administration manager Li Wy-man, the government has limited the height of any building to 50 meters above sea level. However, this includes 15m to reach ground level and another 20m for the underground space the MTR needs.

That would effectively leave the Sanatorium with only 15m for its building, meaning it would be restricted to four or five levels whereas its target is a 20-story construction.

``The hospital needs more beds in order to expand effectively so we can support more services,'' Li said. ``It's not cost effective if we can only build so few levels.''

There would also be disturbance from the railway, including the shaking of delicate surgical instruments and noise that could affect patients.

The MTR would also affect a construction program at the site.

According to the government, work on the MTR would interrupt other work, breaking it into a two- stage building operation. That would result in double the amount of work, said Li.
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Old February 3rd, 2010, 07:52 PM   #928
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Shek Lei interim housing structurally safe
Monday, February 1, 2010
Government Press Release

In response to media enquiries on structural repairs of Shek Lei interim housing, a spokesman of the Housing Department made the following remarks today (February 1):

Two buildings in Shek Lei (II) Estate, Block 10 and 11, are designated by the Housing Department (HD) for use as an Interim Housing and Transit Centre. The HD carried out an investigation two years ago to ascertain the building conditions of these two 40-year-old buildings. The findings completed in 2008 revealed that they were structurally safe but required repair works.

The repair works began in early 2009. The major part of the repair works has been completed while some are still in progress. The works include spalling repair to ceilings of balconies and toilets, applying a waterproof layer and re-tiling internal walls inside toilets, and repairing concrete defects in general.

In addition to the repair works, continuous efforts have been made by the HD to improve the living environment of the buildings with the Total Maintenance Scheme (TMS) launched in the estate in mid-2009. Under the scheme, TMS Ambassadors carried out household visits to all the flats to find out about potential defects proactively, followed by appropriate repairs and actions as necessary.

For various reasons, a few households could not make arrangements with the HD to carry out repair works to their flats. The HD will continue to liaise with them for early commencement of the works.
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Old February 3rd, 2010, 08:23 PM   #929
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Property deals stage rebound
The Standard
Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Hong Kong property transactions in January more than doubled from December to 12,380, according to the Land Registry.

The surge came after the global financial crisis dragged home sales to just 5,759 in January of last year. The latest figure also represented an 11.4 percent increase from 11,112 in December.

Residential homes made up 86 percent of all transactions registered last month.

Total transactions registered last month amounted to HK$44.7 billion, up 139.3 percent from a year earlier and 4.3 percent from December.

The home market picked up last month as prospective homebuyers re-entered after taking a breather in the final quarter last year on concerns of policy adjustments, Dow Jones Newswires reported.

New World Development (0017) sold over 85 percent of its Belcher's Hill project in Sai Wan within the first three days of its launch, with the highest per square foot price at HK$13,810. Market watchers said there are signs of buyers reselling property at the residence.

Kerry Properties (0683) will open the showroom of Island Crest to the media in nearby Sai Ying Pun today.

As developers were slow to launch new homes recently, mortgages for uncompleted homes in January fell to 69 - the lowest since October 2008 - according to mortgage brokerage mReferral.

Mortgages for completed homes in January also fell 11 percent to 11,455.

The brokerage said some banks have increased their market share in recent months as they introduced competitive mortgage plans based on the Hong Kong Interbank Offered Rate and prime lending rate-related plans with cash rebates.
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Old February 3rd, 2010, 08:40 PM   #930
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Jewel of the tunnel borers makes debut today
9 January 2010
SCMP

A HK$100 million boring machine will today begin cutting a drainage tunnel to solve the problem of flooding in West Kowloon.

The machine - named Dae Jang Geum after a popular female character in a Korean TV drama - will create a drainage tunnel in Lai Chi Kok that runs for 3.7 kilometres.

The tunnel will divert rainwater from higher ground before it runs downstream to Lai Chi Kok, Cheung Sha Wan and Sham Shui Po and discharge it into the harbour near Stonecutters Island.

The tunnel will start underneath Tai Po Road, run under Ching Cheung Road and outfall to Victoria Harbour, near Stonecutters Island.

The whole project is costing the Drainage Services Department HK$1.7 billion. Construction work began in November 2008 and will be completed by the end of 2012.

The boring machine, weighing in at a massive 650 tonnes, was designed in Germany and made there and on the mainland.

Made for both rock and soft-ground tunnelling, Dae Jang Geum costs 10 per cent more than machines that can only drill through hard rock. The cone-shaped boring head is 5.7 metres in diameter and will tunnel through 10 metres a day.

It is a tradition in the industry to give boring machines a female name. Dae Jang Geum was chosen for her passionate and fearless character.

Intercepting rainwater costs more than improving existing drainage networks in urban areas, but it causes less disruption to commercial activities, said Tsui Wai, assistant director of the department.

On average, the Lai Chi Kok tunnel will be 40 metres underground. The depth increases the difficulty of construction work, Tsui said. Since 1998, the department has spent HK$3.3 billion on improving the drainage network in West Kowloon.

Two other major drainage projects - in Tsuen Wan and on Hong Kong Island - are still in progress and will finish by 2012 at a total cost of HK$4.2 billion.

Tsui says that by then most areas in Hong Kong will be free from flooding problems.

"Even if an area is hit by storms bringing the highest rainfall in 50 years, the system will be able to cope with it," he said. But low-lying areas such as Tai O could still be troubled by floods.
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Old February 3rd, 2010, 09:04 PM   #931
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CEDD continues to green Hong Kong
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Government Press Release

The Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) had planted 4,000 trees and 900,000 shrubs in Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok with the completion of the Greening Master Plan (GMP) in the two districts by the end of 2009.

Officiating at a planting ceremony today (February 2) to mark the completion of greening works in Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok, the Director of Civil Engineering and Development, Mr John Chai, said that apart from Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok, the department had also completed its greening works in Sheung Wan, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay last year.

"Works under the GMP are being implemented in other urban areas including Kwun Tong, Wong Tai Sin, Sham Shui Po, Kowloon City, Eastern District, Western District and Southern District for completion by mid-2011. By then, more than 18,000 trees and 4 million shrubs will have been planted in urban areas of Hong Kong. This shows CEDD's determination and continuous efforts to enhance urban greening," Mr Chai said.

The GMP provides an overall greening framework for an area by identifying suitable locations for planting with desirable themes and species to achieve a continuous and consistent result. The Government established an inter-departmental Greening Master Plan Committee in August 2004 to oversee the development and implementation of the GMP in urban districts. The first phase of greening works was completed in Tsim Sha Tsui and Central in 2007.

Mr Chai thanked the Yau Tsim Mong District Council, district organisations and the local community for their advice and support during the projects' design and implementation. He also thanked the residents for their patience in regard to the inconvenience caused by the works.

Attending the ceremony today were the Chairman of Yau Tsim Mong District Council, Mr Chung Kong-mo, Deputy Secretary (Works) of Development Bureau, Mrs Jessie Ting, District Officer of Yau Tsim Mong, Mrs Vicki Kwok, Yau Tsim Mong District Council members, GMP Committee members and representatives of local community and relevant government departments.
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Old February 4th, 2010, 07:58 AM   #932
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18pc of top-end HK flats bought by mainlanders
4 February 2010
South China Morning Post

Cashed-up mainlanders snapped up almost one in five luxury flats sold in Hong Kong last year, a sign of their growing economic might in the city.

Research by Centaline Property Agency shows mainlanders comprised made up 18.1 per cent of buyers of flats worth more than HK$12 million last year, compared with 11.2 per cent in 2008. In 2007, 9.2 per cent of buyers in the luxury residential market were mainlanders.

A luxury flat is usually defined as one worth more than HK$10 million.

It was the sharpest growth in mainland purchases in six years, said Wong Leung-shing, an associate director of research at Centaline.

He said the buyers had taken advantage of a sharp fall in prices.

"From 2004 to 2008, mainland buyers grew only one to two per cent a year, but the growth was steady," Wong said. "The substantial increase in 2009 was due to the sharp fall in luxury property prices."

Prices of luxury properties in Hong Kong plunged 40 to 50 per cent after the global financial crisis began in September 2008. "This attracted rich people from the mainland, as they caught the best time to buy. Prices of luxury properties have since surged 50 per cent to 70 per cent from the bottom and have generated attractive profit," Wong said.

In the overall property market, including mass residential properties, only 5.6 per cent of the buyers came from the mainland last year, compared with 4.3 per cent in 2008.

Alva To Yu-hung, the head of consulting, North Asia, at DTZ, said the loose monetary policy on the mainland was another factor contributing to the influx of mainland buyers last year. However, he expects the number of mainland buyers to drop this year as the central government tightens its monetary policies.

The mainland appetite for luxury real estate in Hong Kong was evidenced by the sales at The Cullinan at Kowloon Station last year. The upmarket project attracted the highest proportion of mainland buyers among new projects in the city.

Property agents said about 10 per cent of buyers at the project held Chinese passports, while a further 20 per cent held Hong Kong identity cards with Putonghua phonetic transcriptions.

Henderson Land Development recently sponsored a mainland TV programme to promote its Beverly Hills luxury residential project in Tai Po, and Cheung Kong (Holdings) plans to promote Festival City, a new mass residential project in Tai Wai, on the mainland after the Lunar New Year.
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Old February 5th, 2010, 09:05 PM   #933
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Developers tipped to speed up sales
3 February 2010
SCMP

Major developers are likely to speed up the release of new housing projects as low interest rates and rising salaries underpin buoyant buying sentiment in both primary and secondary markets, property agents say.

Nearly 5,000 completed or near-finished new units await release, agents say. Strong sales achieved by an uncompleted project, Belcher's Hill in Western district, over the weekend are likely to persuade rival developers to release their new projects for sale.

Buyers snapped up 120 units at Belcher's Hill, or some 80 per cent of the total available, when New World Development launched the project for pre-sale at between HK$8,500 per square foot to HK$13,000 per sq ft last Saturday. The 52-storey single residential block comprises a total of 160 units, ranging from 732 sq ft to 2,198 sq ft, and is due for completion.

"Home buying interest is unaffected by the stagnant stock market performance. Developers will become more aggressive in launching their new projects before or after Lunar New Year," said Eric Yuen Chi-fung, the head of research at Guoco Capital.

Yuen dismissed concerns that a slump in the stock market last week would have a direct impact on the property market, citing the example of what happened when the Hang Seng Index peaked at 31,638.22 points on October 30, 2007, before diving to 11,015.84, a 4 1/2-year-low in October last year.

"Home prices only reached their peak in the middle of 2008 before heading for a correction in the fourth quarter as the global financial crisis dented housing demand. Since then we have seen prices shoot up 30 per cent in the whole of 2009," he said.

Speculation that the Hang Seng Index would drop to 18,000 points from 19,000 points, would therefore have no enduring impact on the property market, Yuen said.

A declining unemployment rate, lower mortgage rates and a positive outlook on salaries would boost property prices, said Yuen, who forecast a 10 per cent to 15 per cent rise in flat prices in Hong Kong this year.

Paul Louie, the regional head of property research at Nomura International (Hong Kong), said buoyant trading in the secondary residential market was likely to prompt developers to accelerate their sales.

According to Midland Realty, deals completed in the secondary market rose 19.61 per cent to 9,812 last month from 8,203 in December. Together with deals in the primary market as well as the retail and industrial markets last month, this brought total transactions to 12,357 at a total value of HK$43.98 billion, up 2.6 per cent from December.

In the secondary market, meanwhile, home prices jumped 4 per cent last month from December, according to property benchmark Centa-City Index.

Upcoming projects ready for pre-sale or in the process of applying for pre-sale permits include Sun Hung Kai Properties' 1,886-unit Yoho Midtown in Yuen Long; Cheung Kong's 1,360-unit Festival City in Tai Wai; Kerry Properties 488-unit Island Crest in Western district; Hongkong Land's 270-unit Serenade in Tai Hang; SHKP's 715-unit Larvotto in Ap Lei Chau; and Swire Properties' 25-unit project at 5 Star Street, Admiralty.

Louie believes sales' releases this year will be driven by demand in the mass residential sector in New Territories rather than luxury homes. By 2013, he forecast that only 6,000 flats - out of a total of 56,476 to be built - will be on Hong Kong Island. Units priced above HK$20 million, he said, would face the hurdle of having to find buyers able to pay an initial deposit of HK$8 million or 40 per cent of the total flat value.

In a bid to restrict soaring prices, the Monetary Authority last October reduced, from 70 per cent to 60 per cent, the required loan-to-valuation ratio for luxury properties of more than HK$20 million.

Morgan Stanley, however, said in a research note that Hong Kong residential property prices should start falling because mainland liquidity overflows into the city's property market could be reduced significantly this year because of tighter lending conditions by mainland banks.

"Funding costs in Hong Kong are at a cyclical low, implying little upside risk in residential prices," it added.
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Old February 8th, 2010, 02:59 PM   #934
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Former government quarters offer redevelopment potential
6 February 2010
South China Morning Post

Some prime former government quarters in Caldecott Road, a residential area near Piper's Hill in Kowloon, were put up for tender yesterday - the third project for the city's developers to compete over.

The Government Property Agency is offering 46 flats and 46 car parking spaces at the site, which represent about 96 per cent of the 48-unit building - the remaining two units were sold to individual buyers several years ago.

It means that whoever wins the tender has the option of forcing those two owners to sell their flats in an auction in an attempt to acquire the whole project for redevelopment, or renovating the 46 units for resale.

The total saleable area of the flats is about 125,626 square feet, with each averaging about 2,700 sq ft. The tender closes on March 5.

According to Centaline Property Agency, property prices of nearby Caldecott Hill and the Caldecott range between HK$6,503 and HK$7,825 per square foot.

Surveyor Albert So Chun-hin estimates the properties are worth up to HK$1.01 billion or HK$8,000 per square foot.

"The selling price of the project will be less than HK$10,000 per square foot as the building is too old," he said. It was built in 1964.

It is the third choice in the land market. The Lands Department is selling a site in Tseung Kwan O on February 22 and the tender for MTR Corp's HK$20 billion Austin Station project will close on February 24.

New World Development chairman Cheng Yu-tung said yesterday his company will go it alone in bidding for the Austin Station residential project and will join the land auction of the Tseung Kwan O site.

So expects bidding for the three projects to be aggressive.

The Caldecott Road units were first put up for tender in 2005, attracting bids from six developers. However, it was withdrawn as none of the bids was deemed adequate.
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Old February 10th, 2010, 01:23 PM   #935
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Government pressure on URA denied
5 February 2010
South China Morning Post

Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor denied in Legco that the government had pressured the Urban Renewal Authority into shunning rundown areas where developers had bought properties.

Lam was responding to a claim by Democrat lawmaker James To Kun-sun, who is also a non-executive director of the authority, who said in a Legco debate that the government had sometimes "stopped" the authority from acquiring properties in areas where developers were active.

"Last night we checked the annual business plans submitted by the authority to us. There is absolutely no such thing," Mrs Lam said. "When the authority selects sites to redevelop it only looks at the condition of residents and buildings. We ask it to conduct a social impact assessment, but not a 'property developer assessment'."

People familiar with the URA told the Post that Ma Tau Wai Road in To Kwa Wan was among sites the authority considered last year, but dropped after records showed more than half the tenement buildings there had been bought by private companies.

To said after Legco that the authority avoided pitching plans to the government about areas where developers were active because it understood the government might not approve such proposals.

"So business plans submitted to the government would not reflect this kind of pressure [to which Lam had referred]," he said.
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Old February 12th, 2010, 02:34 PM   #936
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Tang vows topush through cross-border projects
6 February 2010
South China Morning Post

Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen has pledged to push forward regional infrastructure development with Guangdong despite recent heated protests in Hong Kong against a cross-border express railway.

Speaking after meeting Guangdong and Macau officials yesterday, Tang said opposition in Hong Kong would pose no barriers to cross-border development.

"It will only encourage us to strive harder in partnering with Guangdong to consolidate co-operation," Tang said.

Hong Kong must strengthen economic ties with Guangdong in order to push development to a new level, he said, adding: "Therefore our effort and perseverance in driving infrastructure to foster cross-border development is unshakable."

His comment came at the end of the Third Liaison and Co-ordinating Meeting of Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macau and the 14th Working Meeting of the Hong Kong Guangdong Co-operation Joint Conference in Guangzhou yesterday.

Last month, opponents of the HK$66.9 billion high-speed railway to Guangzhou staged rounds of aggressive protests in Hong Kong in an attempt to block funding for the controversial project.

During meetings with Guangdong vice-governor Wan Qingliang and Macau's Secretary for Economics and Finance Francis Tam Pak-yuen, officials from the three jurisdictions reviewed the Pearl River Delta development plan.

Tang said they would push for the plan - which calls for closer regional co-operation on infrastructure, tourism and finance - to be included in the national 12th Five-Year Plan.

On tourism, Tang said Hong Kong benefited from the more than 1.47 million visitors from Shenzhen between April and December. This was the result of a mainland scheme that allowed Shenzhen permanent residents to make multiple visits to Hong Kong in a year with just one single application. Eligible non-Guangdong residents living in Shenzhen could apply under the scheme since December. Tang said he would continue seek Beijing's approval to gradually extend the scheme to cover all of Guangdong province.

Other major initiatives to be pursued by the three governments included conservation, low-carbon development, personnel exchange, transport and cultural development.

"We are making good progress and expect that the compilation of the plan will be completed by the second quarter of 2010," Tang said, adding that the Pearl River Delta quality living plan would be showcased at the Shanghai World Expo.

Tang also said a pilot electronic payment scheme - combining the Octopus and Shenzhen Tong smart cards on one card - would be launched in a year's time.
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Old February 15th, 2010, 03:53 PM   #937
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I found on Emporis.com that the 27-storey Tai Sang Commercial Building, constructed in 1997, is currently under demolition. It is unknown what new building will be placed on its site. Hong kong is so dence that the taller skyscrapers are being torn down before their time.
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Old February 15th, 2010, 05:44 PM   #938
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim856796 View Post
I found on Emporis.com that the 27-storey Tai Sang Commercial Building, constructed in 1997, is currently under demolition. It is unknown what new building will be placed on its site. Hong kong is so dence that the taller skyscrapers are being torn down before their time.
1997? It looked like an old building though.

Swire bids $1.36b for Wan Chai site
The Standard
Saturday, December 01, 2007



After fierce bidding, Swire Pacific (0019) bought an office tower on Hong Kong Island for HK$1.36 billion, an amount above expectations, reflecting developers' optimism on the commercial market.

The sale of Tai Sang Commercial Building, situated on a 9,600 square foot site near Swire's Three Pacific Place, where Wan Chai meets Admiralty, attracted 26 bids from seven paddles.

"It is a fair price, and it indicates a solid office market," said Swire Properties chief operating officer Gordon Ongley.

The building, originally belonging to the family of Ma Kam-chan, founder of the bank-to-property conglomerate Tai Sang group, has a total floor area of 185,447 sq ft.

The transaction price, 60 percent higher than the HK$850 million opening bid, translates to HK$7,334 per sq ft. Surveyors have estimated the 28-story tower to be worth between HK$900 million and HK$1 billion.

Swire will keep the 30-year-old office building and spend HK$150 million to renovate it, Ongley said. With Three Pacific Place fully let, the company will have to expand its portfolio to provide enough space for the expansion of clients.

Rents for prime offices in Wan Chai and Causeway Bay in the third quarter shot up 6.8 percent from the previous three months, while the occupancy rate dropped to a 20-year low, according to figures from Jones Lang LaSalle, which arranged the auction.

"The fierce bidding in the auction hall was a vote of confidence in the future of the office market," said Warren Liu Yuk-chor, LaSalle head of investments in Hong Kong, who was also the auctioneer.

Transactions for office buildings were hot during the year, Liu said.

Although the market slowed in the middle of this year because of a lack of supply, he expected it to revive strongly soon because of a downward trend in interest rates and climbing inflation. "Investors wishing to have more stable returns will turn to property, as the stock market has become turbulent in recent weeks," he added.

Losing bidders include Chinese Estates (0127), Easyknit International Holdings (1218) and several private investors.

Meanwhile, the Ma family sold two small pieces of land in Bonham Stand West in Sheung Wan. The sites, with areas of 1,879 sq ft and 1,392 sq ft, were sold at HK$60 million and HK$25.2 million, respectively.
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Old February 17th, 2010, 01:05 AM   #939
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Swire will keep the building and renovate it? I thought they were goind to demo the building, probably for air rights purposes. And was building was not built in 1997 as Emporis claimed. It was actually built in 1977.
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Old February 17th, 2010, 05:55 PM   #940
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the plan to renovate was ruled out and the building is under demolition. IMO sad consider the building quite characterful compared to most of the others in Hong Kong.

Source: Singtao News
site area 9611sf
existing GFA 185384sf
plot ratio: 19
no of storeys: 28

Redevelopment:
New plot ratio approved for redevelopment with residential bldgs altogether: 15
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