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Old October 28th, 2010, 07:23 PM   #121
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Home prices to rise
26 October 2010
The Standard

Local home prices will rise a further 10 to 15 percent in the coming year, Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp said.

Low interest rates will continue for at least 1 years more, while official efforts to boost land supply to bring down prices will show results only from 2012, said Donna Kwok, economist for Greater China.

She said more capital will flow into the local property market as Beijing puts the brakes on property speculation and if the United States launches a second round of quantitative easing.

The bank's chief executive for Hong Kong, Mark McCombe, said a vibrant home market has historically been ``the bedrock of Hong Kong's economic growth.''

He said the policy address took a prudent approach to address the issue of affordability.

``I think it is ... extremely important that people in Hong Kong have a chance to own their homes,'' he said.

According to Midland Realty, secondary deals at 35 major projects were up 24.3 percent at 476 last week, an almost three-year high.

And the Housing Authority said almost all the remaining 3,200 Home Ownership Scheme units left in its inventory have been sold.

As of Friday, the Land Registry recorded 9,179 HOS deals worth HK$15.6 billion so far this year.

On a wider front, HSBC chief economist for Greater China Qu Hongbin believes Asian authorities may launch more tightening policies - such as taxes or capital restriction - to minimize risks stemming from liquidity inflows.

The possibility of a quick and sharp rise in home prices and rising inflation driven by capital inflows may be the largest concerns this year, Qu said. HSBC expects mainland home prices to fall by 7 to 20 percent in the coming year.
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Old November 1st, 2010, 06:31 PM   #122
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Clean killer has noise, dust in sights
The Standard
Monday, November 01, 2010

Four housing estates are getting a face-lift with the Housing Department's latest device - a HK$1 million water gun.

The new machine makes a lot less noise than the electric drills used before, and produces near- zero dust, the department's support service chief manager, Pang Hon-wah, said.

"The environment-friendly water gun is almost dust-free and makes much less noise," he said.

Compared to the more than 100 decibels of sound that electric drills produce when cleaning concrete, the water gun produces about 70 decibels.

That is about the level of normal sounds in everyday life, Pang said.

What is more important is that the water method of cleaning buildings reduces dust pollution, thereby lowering the risk of contracting "dust lung" - a common occupational disease among construction workers.

Also, the water gun will not undermine the architectural construction of old buildings, a problem associated with the strong vibrations generated by electric drills, Pang said.

The gun is designed to push the water through dozens of tiny holes, generating fine columns but with strong pressure of 20,000 to 30,000 pounds per square inch at a time, powerful enough to remove concrete.

Fixed on a support, the device is controlled by a microcomputer and can be moved back and forth.

An additional water-collecting device is installed to gather liquid running to the ground to prevent leakage. The collected water can then be filtered and reused.

The gun is already widely used in construction sites for unblocking drains, removing oil and cleaning outer walls. The device, developed by the department, is about one-tenth the size of the original adopted in the United States.

The portable machine can be detached and moved into a tiny lift by two workers.

If the results prove satisfactory at the four public estates now using the water gun for indoor renewal works, the device will be used in other estates as well, Pang said.
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Old December 19th, 2010, 05:19 PM   #123
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Works to improve accessibility in public housing blocks
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Government Press Release

The following is issued on behalf of the Housing Authority:

The Housing Authority (HA) will carry out works at a total cost of about $330 million to improve barrier free access in old public housing estates to meet requirements laid down in Design Manual: Barrier Free Access 2008 (DM 2008), in accordance with the recommendation of the Equal Opportunities Commission.

"While all new buildings of the HA have adopted the relevant design requirements in DM 2008 since its introduction, those built earlier are not fully compliant," a spokesman for the HA said today (December 19).

Although the DM 2008 has no retrospective effect, the HA as a caring landlord conducted an assessment in July this year in all existing properties under its management. Subsequently, it has identified a number of major improvement works, most of which are to be completed by mid-2012, to fulfil the requirements of DM 2008. The remaining works are expected to be completed by 2014.

These works include accessible lifts covering lift doors, control buttons, illuminated visual indicators, audible signals and indication in lift cars; provision of tactile warning strips at landings and at both bottom and top ends of staircases; the provision of handrails of required dimension and shape; and the provision of appropriate channel cover and grating.

Meanwhile, to address a major concern of many people with disabilities, the HA has put in place a separate programme of installing lifts for low-rise public housing blocks without such facilities, scheduled to be completed by 2012.

"In addition, improvement works for domestic blocks without lift services for every floor will be completed in 2016/17," the spokesman said.

The HA is also committed to on-going tailor-made improvement works on a needs basis. These include in-flat modifications, such as the widening of toilet and kitchen doors and the addition of temporary ramps at flat entrances.

"We will continue the proactive approach in co-ordination with relevant stakeholders for works in divested properties or in the vicinity of our estates," the spokesman said.
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Old December 31st, 2010, 12:48 PM   #124
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Housing market: Government should not be too protective
29 December 2010
China Daily - Hong Kong Edition

The Party Secretary of Shenzhen, Wang Rong, had the following comment to make about the hot housing market: "Everybody feels the pressures from high cost of living in Shenzhen. But the government cannot therefore suppress the housing price from 20,000 yuan per square meter to 10,000 or 8,000 yuan. That would not be compatible with the law of markets. But we can provide more housing for the poor."

It's high time bureaucrats in Hong Kong understood this principle and started working accordingly. After all, Hong Kong is known to be the bulwark of free market economy in the world.

There is a widespread belief that Hong Kong's high housing prices are due to speculative pressures, as if speculative pressures had an independent effect on housing prices. It is also believed that once speculative pressures are taken off, houses would be a lot more affordable. Nothing is further from the truth.

With historically low mortgage rates, demand for property outstripping supply for years, and an economy that is gaining in strength, why should anyone be surprised at the surge in housing prices?

It is true that speculators buy, but they also sell. One must prove that speculators are really reducing the net availability of homes to "users", and that such "net absorption" has risen over the years. Surely, if the net absorption is relatively stable, it should not accentuate the housing price increase.

It is also true that in a rising market, speculators pocket gains. What happens when someone sells a flat at $3 million to a speculator, who sells for $3.6 million to a user after six months? The speculator pockets $0.6 million profit. But without the speculator's role, the flat today would probably still cost $3.6 million. The capital gain would have gone to the seller or to the user-buyer. The price increase thus mainly reflects a change in market conditions.

Mr Shih Wing-ching, the chairman of Centaline Property Agency Ltd, recently wrote two interesting and well reasoned pieces on the role of speculators, who, according to him, buy houses at a price that sellers are happy to sell, when users are still hesitant about buying; and that they sell to users at a price that buyers are happy to buy, when market conditions have convinced the users that the price is still reasonable. Speculators therefore generally increase liquidity in the property market. Their role is especially valuable to developers who need cash for further property development. It is also inappropriate to portray speculators as anti-socials.

From the point of view of the monetary authority and the government, both of which should be concerned about systematic risks, the main challenge is not so much to guard against prices becoming "excessively high" as to control risks through controlling leverage. Indeed, if the US had taken steps to ensure that for each purchase of homes, there is a reasonable down-payment and that the borrower had met the normal criteria, the sub-prime crisis would never have occurred. Paradoxically, the sub-prime crisis in the US reflected the failure of democratic polity. The short-term interests of politicians who were anxious to please their constituents were instrumental in excessive forbearance of extreme leverage and the watering down of loan standards. Both Republicans and Democrats had acted irresponsibly to promote homeownership.

So is there no need to worry about the housing price bubble? My simple answer is "no", so long as the government has a consistent policy to supply housing that meets Hong Kong's long-term demand. Yes housing prices may fall, and falling home prices may hurt, but that is just fine, and indeed necessary for homebuyers to learn that there are always risks in any investment! The government and the monetary authorities cannot and should not be too protective. They should at the most guard people against risks.

The SAR government has taken the first step to offer an annual housing supply target, which I have advocated for years. The 20,000-units-a-year target for private housing and the 15,000-units-a-year target for public housing are probably on the low side. It is a far cry from the 85,000-units-a-year target announced by the former Chief Executive Mr Tung. The 35,000-units-a-year target is based on take-up rates in recent years that may not reflect normal times, as we had seen during the Asian financial crisis, the bursting of the dotcom bubble, SARS and the global financial tsunami. A more reasonable target probably lies somewhere between these extremes.

The author is director of Centre for Public Policy Studies, Lingnan University.
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Old January 5th, 2011, 09:33 AM   #125
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Hong Kong Starts Tender For Affordable Housing Project In New Territories
31 December 2010

HONG KONG - (Dow Jones) - The Hong Kong government said Friday it has started a tender for a site in the New Territories that has been designated for affordable housing in a pilot program announced by Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang in October.

The Development Bureau said in a statement the developer of the project in Yuen Long district will have to build at least 960 apartments of up to 60 square meters each. The total size of the site is about 12,340 square meters.

The tender will close Feb. 18, the statement said.

The city's real-estate prices have soared more than 15% since the start of this year, following a 30% rise last year, prompting the government to take several measures to cool the property market.

Tsang announced the pilot program in his policy address for the year ending March 31, 2011, as part of government measures to increase the supply of affordable housing.
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Old January 21st, 2011, 10:57 AM   #126
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Budget surplus means good news for authority's home building goals
5 January 2011
South China Morning Post

The Housing Authority's construction goals should be easier to meet over the next few years, thanks to a bigger-than-expected surplus.

In the 2010-11 financial year, the provider of public housing and Home Ownership Scheme flats achieved an overall consolidated surplus of HK$6 billion, according to a revised budget announced yesterday by Stanley Wong Yuen-fai, chairman of the authority's finance committee.

This was 58 per cent more than the HK$3.8 billion the authority projected in an earlier approved budget. It is also the biggest surplus since The Link real estate and investment trust took over management of estate malls in 2005.

The authority promised to build 15,000 public housing flats a year, at a cost of HK$7.5 billion over five years. To ensure it met this goal, its investment profile was now more adventurous, Wong said. Hong Kong stocks used to constitute 1 per cent of global stocks in which it invested, but that had been lifted to more than 5 per cent.

The revised budget noted that sales and pricing of Home Ownership Scheme flats were better than expected, resulting in an additional HK$500 million for the authority.

"A general rise of property prices in Hong Kong lifted the prices of Home Ownership Scheme flats," Wong said.

Prices of the scheme's flats were linked to prices of private housing and priced about 30 per cent lower than private flats in the same district.

Spending also dropped because of a shift in accounting rules. Estates could now depreciate public housing for 50 years instead of 40 years, Wong said.

The authority estimated the surplus would shrink to HK$4.4 billion in 2012, dwindling further, to HK$3.7 billion, in 2015. Income was expected to slip after the Home Ownership Scheme was phased out next year.

In 2010, the authority sold 3,000 flats under the scheme. A total of 800 would be sold this year.

The authority's financial performance had nothing to do with the rent paid by public housing tenants, Wong said. According to an adjustment system introduced in 2008, rents were adjusted according to changes in the average income of tenants, calculated every two years.

The authority last raised rents by 4.68 per cent in September, but it also waived one month's rent, which nearly offset the increase.
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Old January 24th, 2011, 09:12 AM   #127
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http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-0...port-says.html

Australia, Hong Kong Among World's Priciest Housing Markets, Survey Shows

Australian homes are the most unaffordable among English-speaking nations, while those in the U.S. are the cheapest relative to incomes, a survey shows.

The median home in Australia costs 6.1 times gross annual median household income, according to a report by Belleville, Illinois-based consulting company Demographia, examining affordability in the third quarter of 2010. U.S. homes were most affordable at 3 times median earnings. Hong Kong is the priciest city, with homes costing 11.4 times income.

Australia has gone from being “the exemplar of modestly priced, high-quality middle class housing, to now the most unaffordable housing market in the English speaking world,” the report said. “Each of the least affordable markets were characterized by more restrictive land use regulation, which materially increases the price of land and makes housing less affordable.”

Australia’s median home price was A$460,000 ($454,000) in October, according to real estate researcher RP Data. That compares with $168,800 in the U.S. in December, data from Washington-based National Association of Realtors show. While the U.S. is still struggling with mounting foreclosures and near 10 percent unemployment, both Australia and Hong Kong are seeing expanding economies on the back of China’s growth.

“There’s no question that Australia has exceptionally expensive housing compared to other countries,” Aaron Gadiel, chief executive officer of Sydney-based developers’ group Urban Taskforce, said in a telephone interview. “Land-use planning policies that combine the worst of the U.S. and U.K. systems, together with a lack of infrastructure development have stalled supply at the fringes of major cities and led to grossly inadequate apartment-type housing in inner suburbs.”

‘Social Problems’

Home prices in Hong Kong have surged more than 50 percent in the past 24 months, powered by interest rates at a two-decade low, an expanding economy and an influx of buyers from China.

“High housing costs can be justified if the productivity and the average income among its population are both rising at a compatible pace,” Raymond So, a professor at the business school of the Hang Seng Management College in Hong Kong, said in an e-mail. “They are creating a lot of social problems in Hong Kong because the economic expansion is only benefiting the high income and professional groups.”

Markets where home prices are 5.1 times household income or more are considered severely unaffordable by the report, which compared major metropolitan areas in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, New Zealand, the U.K. and U.S.

Rising Foreclosures

All the affordable major markets -- with homes that cost three times yearly income or less -- were in the U.S., with Altanta, where the median house price is $129,000, the most affordable big city, the report said.

The number of U.S. homes receiving a foreclosure filing will climb about 20 percent in 2011, RealtyTrac Inc. said in a Jan. 14 report, pushing home prices down further. A record 2.87 million properties got notices of default, auction or repossession in 2010, according to the report.

In the U.S., the most unaffordable major metropolitan market was San Francisco, where homes cost 7.2 times income, followed by San Jose (6.7 times), San Diego (6.2 times), New York (6.1 times) and Los Angeles (5.9 times), the report said.

In the U.K., where nearly two-thirds of metropolitan markets were severely unaffordable, the market’s rebound may be held in check by the government’s planned spending cuts, Hometrack Ltd. said.

Almost 85 percent of homes in Australia’s major markets were more than 5.1 times average income, the report said, making it the nation with “the most intense housing stress.”

Absorb Losses

Still, the situation may not be as dire as it seems, Australian banks including Westpac Banking Corp. and Commonwealth Bank of Australia have argued.

The RP-Data-Rismark home value index, which considers all home prices across all regions and comparable incomes, shows an affordability ratio of 4.5 percent for Australia, Westpac said in October.

Comparing homes in global coastal cities -- which are generally priced higher than those in inland areas -- shows homes in Australian metropolitan areas are in line with other countries, Commonwealth Bank said in September. About 85 percent of Australians live within 50 kilometers (27 miles) of the coast, according to a 2009 government report.

Australian banks and mortgage insurers could absorb losses should home prices plunge, and related securities would maintain their ratings, Fitch Ratings said in a separate report.

Conservative lending standards and the strength of the Australian economy would enable the financial industry and mortgage market to weather a 30 percent decline in housing prices and a 6 percent default rate, according to a stress test conducted by Fitch. The results released today were in line with preliminary figures the ratings company revealed late last year.

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Old January 28th, 2011, 08:26 AM   #128
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LCQ4: Allocation of public rental housing flats
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Government Press Release

Following is a question by the Hon Fred Li Wah-ming and a reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, in the Legislative Council today (26 January):

Question:

Members of the public who are eligible to apply for public rental housing (PRH) and have submitted their applications must first obtain an application number, then wait for allocation of PRH flats according to their order of registration on the PRH Waiting List, and PRH flats will be allocated to them when suitable flats are available. At present, the average space allocated is normally not less than seven square metres per person. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) why at present, the authorities generally need three months to allocate an application number to a PRH applicant and whether that duration can be shortened; among the ordinary family applications which had been allocated PRH flats in the past three years, of the average waiting time from the date of registration to the acceptance of flat offer (i.e. being successfully allocated a flat), the median waiting time, and the respective numbers and percentages of applicants who accepted the flats allocated to them on the first, second and third offers;

(b) among the ordinary family applications currently on the Waiting List, of the average waiting time from the date of registration till the end of December 2010, the median waiting time, and the respective numbers of applications which have been given flat offers once or twice, and whether the time required for making the second or the third offers can be shortened; and

(c) among the applications from the three-person, four-person and five-person families which had been allocated PRH flats in the past three years, of the respective average space allocated to each person, and whether the authorities will consider relaxing the space allocation standard, which had been established many years ago, of an average of seven square metres per person?

Reply:

President,

The Government and the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA)'s objective is to provide public rental housing (PRH) to low-income families who cannot afford private rental accommodation, and the target is to maintain the average waiting time (AWT) for PRH at around three years. To this end, the HA maintains a Waiting List (WL) of PRH applicants. My reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:

(a) To safeguard the rational allocation of public housing resources, all applicants have to undergo eligibility vetting before they are registered on the WL. The Housing Department (HD) will vet the applicants' eligibility according to the order of receipt of the application forms. Those fulfilling the eligibility criteria will be allocated an application number and issued an acknowledgement letter (blue card) bearing the application number. Our target is to inform the applicant in writing whether he/she has been successfully registered on the WL within three months upon acknowledgement of the receipt of his/her application form. The time required for vetting depends on the number of applications received and the number of documents requiring vetting. If there is a significant increase in the number of applications received in a certain period of time, HD would redeploy extra manpower to vet and process the applications. At present, in general we are able to meet the target of completing vetting in three months.

The Government and the HA's target is to maintain the AWT of general WL applicants at around three years. Under the established calculation methodology, the AWT of general WL applicants refers to the average time taken between registration on the WL and the first flat offer for those rehoused to PRH in the past 12 months, excluding any frozen period during application, for example, when the applicant has not yet fulfilled the residence requirement, the applicant is imprisoned, or the applicant has requested to put his/her application on hold pending arrival of family member(s) for family reunion, etc. While eligible applicants are given three flat offers, the applicants are provided with a rehousing opportunity at the first offer. It is a matter of personal decision if the applicants decline the first flat offer to wait for subsequent offers. Thus, the waiting time is counted up to the first flat offer.

In respect of AWT for general WL applicants, which refers to the average period between registration and first flat offer, it was 1.8 years in 2008/09, and two years for 2009/10 and as at the end of October 2010.

The aforementioned calculation methodology counting the time between registration and first flat offer forms the basis for formulating and maintaining the target of keeping the AWT at around three years. We have not calculated the average or median of the actual time for rehousing as this would include acceptance upon the second or third flat offer.

However, we could provide the following supplementary information for reference. For those general WL applicants, excluding one-person applicants, who rejected the first offer, in 2008/09, the average time taken between the first and second offer, or between the second and third offers for those with third offers was about five or six months plus; in 2009/10, it was about four to five months plus; and from April to end of October 2010, it was about five to six months.

As regards statistics of when the applicants accept the flat offers, in 2008/09, 20%, 39% and 41% of the general WL applicants (excluding applicants under the Quota and Points System (QPS)) accepted the first, second and third offers respectively. In 2009/10, the respective numbers were 21%, 41% and 38%. From April to end of October 2010, the respective numbers were 19%, 46% and 35%. I would like to stress that the above figures only show the situation in a specified period of time. As the supply and demand of PRH and the distribution of WL District choices of applicants change from time to time, such figures also vary from time to time.

(b) Regarding part (b) of the question, as the statistics for the recent two months are still being compiled, we would now provide statistics as at end of October 2010.

The average waiting period for general WL applicants currently on the WL, based on the time between registration until flat offer or end of October 2010, was 1.5 years and the median waiting period was 1.3 years. Waiting period excludes any frozen period, for example when the applicants do not fulfill the residence requirements, period of imprisonment, or the applications are put on hold at the request of the applicants pending arrival of family member(s) for family reunion, etc.

Under the three housing offers available, it is a matter of personal decision for the applicants to refuse the first flat offer to wait for subsequent offers. As at end of October 2010, there were a total of 81,900 general WL applications, excluding applications under the QPS. Among them,about 5,700 and 7,900 cases had already received first or second flat offer(s).

As for the period between second and third flat offers, I wish to point out that allocation offers are made subject to the supply of PRH flats which includes new production and recovered flats. Supply of new and recovered PRH flats may vary across Districts from time to time and applicants' demand for various flat types in different Districts changes from time to time as well. Whenever existing PRH flats are recovered or new flats are completed, we would allocate the flats to households of suitable sizes in a timely manner and without any delay, according to the order of the applications. We hope to help applicants solve their housing problem as soon as possible and ensure that public housing resources are utilised effectively. As allocation offers are made subject to PRH demand and supply, we are unable to pledge to shorten the period required for the next offer. Moreover, there are cases where the applicants have special requests regarding the locality of allocation on medical or family grounds with support from the relevant authorities. The flats available for allocation would be limited and hence the time required for such offers would be longer.

(c) The HA's objective is to provide PRH to low income households to meet their housing needs as soon as possible. For effective use of the scarce PRH resources, flats of different designs and sizes are allocated according to the standards endorsed by the HA. If the standards are relaxed, applicants' choice would be reduced and the waiting time would be lengthened. The HA would also need to have larger units to rehouse WL applicants. This would exert pressure on PRH supply under limited public housing and land resources. Therefore, we do not have any plans to relax the allocation standards.

Among general WL applicants rehoused in 2008/09, 2009/10 and from April to end of October 2010, the average space allocated per person for three-person households remained around 10 square metres. For four-person households, it remained around 9.5 square metres. For five-person households, it remained around 8 square metres.
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Old March 11th, 2011, 05:06 AM   #129
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Can supply keep up with increased demand?

Public flats may open to 25,000 more
1 March 2011
The Standard

An extra 25,000 households may qualify for public housing under a proposal to raise the monthly income cap for applicants by up to 17.5 percent in the coming financial year.

Housing chief Eva Cheng Yu-wah said that factors such as the macroeconomic environment, price movements and the Minimum Wage Ordinance, which will be implemented on May 1, all have to be taken into account during discussions on public housing applicants' income limit.

``We want to get prepared as soon as possible and properly deal with the income limit matter by May 1 so that those who are waiting for public housing flats can rest assured and more low-income families can be helped,'' said Cheng, the secretary for transport and housing.

She estimated that 25,000 more households will be eligible to apply. That means 32.5 percent of households now renting private flats - or 131,100 - will fall into the public housing net.

For one-member households, the government may raise the income cap by 17.5 percent to HK$8,740 a month.

Under the government proposals that are pending approval by the Housing Authority, the monthly income cap of public housing applicants in 2011-12 will go up 15.6 percent on average.

The asset limit is also proposed to be increased by up to 3.3 percent on average in the coming financial year.

A government source declined to say whether the ``substantial'' increase was proposed to pacify public anger.

The minimum wage is HK$28 an hour.

Federation of Public Housing Estates chairman Wong Kwun said the government should increase the supply of public housing flats.
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Old March 11th, 2011, 06:14 AM   #130
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Can supply keep up with increased demand?
We are already short in supply, and now we have more demand without plan to increase supply. So... never!
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Old March 12th, 2011, 05:40 PM   #131
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HA approves arrangements for clearance of Chai Wan Factory Estate
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Government Press Release



The following is issued on behalf of the Housing Authority:

The Housing Authority's (HA) Commercial Properties Committee (CPC) today (March 10) approved a plan to clear the Chai Wan Factory Estate (CWFE) and provide an ex-gratia allowance and other arrangements for the affected tenants. All arrangements will be the same as those for clearance of other old factory estates in the past.

"The CWFE is a five-storey block without lift service built in 1959, comprising 378 factory units with a standard size of 18 square metres. Its design has become obsolescent and its maintenance costs keep on increasing. Currently, there are still 138 tenants occupying 280 standard units. The CPC has approved to give tenants 18 months' notice to vacate the premises," said the CPC Chairman Dr Andrew Chan Ping-chiu.

"Both the tenancy agreement and the Housing Ordinance entitle the HA to terminate factory tenancies by giving due notice. Nevertheless, an ex-gratia allowance (EGA) will be granted to the affected tenants to assist their relocation," he said.

About 98% of the affected tenants have "assignment right" and will be offered EGA ranging from about $88,000 to $147,000 for each standard unit. The EGA granted represents about 14 to 16 years' existing rent payable.

"Those who wish to re-establish business elsewhere may participate in the open tender or restricted tender exercises for the newer HA factory units, where space of about 2,000 square metres is currently available," he said.

The affected tenants may alternatively choose to relocate to factory units in the private sector which are in abundant supply. According to the Rating and Valuation Department's "Hong Kong Property Review 2010", there were 1,388,000 square metres of factory space vacant in the private sector, of which about 12% was on Hong Kong Island, as at end-2009.

"A three-month rent-free period will be offered to displaced tenants leasing HA factory units elsewhere. A cash sum of $8,200 per standard unit will be paid to tenants not opting for the rent-free period. The total sum of EGA (including the cash sum in-lieu of rent free period) payable to the affected tenants of CWFE would be about $33 million," he added.

The clearance of CWFE is scheduled for September 2012. The site is currently zoned "Comprehensive Development Area" under the approved Chai Wan Outline Zoning Plan. The HA considers that the site is suitable for public rental housing development and intends to seek its allocation for that purpose.
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Old March 14th, 2011, 11:03 AM   #132
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The Housing Department has decided to renovate a big public housing estate on a prime site in Southern District after inspectors found it was structurally sound.
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Old March 14th, 2011, 12:18 PM   #133
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DiscoZimpy View Post
The Housing Department has decided to renovate a big public housing estate on a prime site in Southern District after inspectors found it was structurally sound.
That's again a quote from a 2008 article from SCMP without properly sourcing it...

http://www.skyline-technologies.com/...210608.shtml#1
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Old April 25th, 2011, 10:37 PM   #134
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LCQ17: Sizes of PRH units
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Government Press Release

Following is a question by the Hon Emily Lau and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, in the Legislative Council today (April 13):

Question:

It has been reported that during his visit to Hong Kong in late February this year, the mayor of Taipei visited a public rental housing (PRH) estate. He subsequently indicated that a study was being conducted on the construction of PRH in Taipei, and the unit sizes would be about twice those in Hong Kong, with about 39 square metres (sq m) for single-person units and about 79 sq m for small-family units. Regarding the sizes and designs of PRH units in Hong Kong, will the Executive Authorities inform this Council:

(a) when and based on what criteria the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) formulated the existing standard for PRH space allocation per person;

(b) whether they know in which Asian cities PRH is provided to the residents, the relevant standards for space allocation per person and the average space allocated to each person;

(c) whether they know how the PRH units provided by HA compare with those of other Asian cities in terms of flat size and layout of rooms, broken down by the designed number of occupants per unit, e.g. the sizes and number of rooms for one/two persons, two/three persons, four persons and five persons or more;

(d) whether they have studied how to improve the designs of PRH units so that they will be on a par with or similar to the PRH units of other Asian cities in terms of size and layout; and

(e) whether they have considered designing larger PRH units for the elderly in response to the ageing population?

Reply:

President,

The public housing programme in Hong Kong is widely recognised as being among the most comprehensive and effective in Asia, if not the world. Hong Kong's public housing has kept in pace with the times in various aspects such as design, planning, construction and estate management and provides public housing tenants with many benefits. We are very willing to share and exchange our successful experience in the development and management of public housing with other places and cities.

The Government's current subsidised housing policy is to provide public rental housing (PRH) for low-income families who cannot afford private rental accommodation. The target of the Government and the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) is to maintain the average waiting time for PRH at around three years for low-income families in need. The HA will develop PRH under the principle of optimal utilisation of land resources to maintain development in a most cost-effective and sustainable manner. PRH resources are limited and we need to allocate PRH in a prudent and rational manner.

My reply to the five parts of the question is as follows:

(a) With a view to better utilising the PRH resources, the Housing Department will flexibly handle the allocation of PRH. There are allocation ranges for different types of PRH units with different sizes. For example, a one-bedroom unit of New Harmony blocks with an internal floor area of about 30 square meters can be allocated to 3 to 4 person households; while a two-bedroom unit with an internal floor area of about 40 square meters can be allocated to 4 to 5 person households. The allocation of other types of units is also premised on similar allocation ranges as stated above. The design of different types of PRH units and the above allocation standard have struck a reasonable balance between the practical needs of general PRH applicants and the optimal use of PRH resources. The actual size of units allocated to the applicants will depend on the supply and demand of PRH units available to the households concerned in the districts at the time. The mix of unit sizes that are to be included in each development is reviewed on an annual basis taking into account the composition of the waiting list and the past demand for units of different sizes. Also, the rents of PRH units are calculated with reference to the internal floor area and set at a very reasonable and affordable level.

(b) to (d) Different economies and cities have different characteristics (such as population density, social background and social system) and their policy objectives are also different. Each place or city would formulate its own housing policies, including PRH policies having regard to its own socio-economic conditions.

Some cities may provide PRH to their eligible residents and set different allocation standards for different types of applications. However, such allocation standards would vary among cities, and so would the design of the units. Therefore, it is difficult to directly compare the practices in other cities with that of the HA in Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, the HA takes into account the life style of local residents and PRH tenants in designing PRH estates, and provide PRH units with pragmatic layout and which are simple yet appropriate for our circumstances. The HA, under the principle of optimal utilisation of valuable land resources, provides a green environment and ancillary facilities as far as possible so as to create a better living environment for PRH tenants.

As mentioned above, the public housing programme in Hong Kong is widely recognised as being among the most comprehensive and effective in Asia, if not the world. Recent PRH projects have won numerous design, building efficiency and other awards. These clearly demonstrate that modern PRH units comply with the most up-to-date standards of energy efficiency, the use of green technology and smart building techniques for the benefit of the tenants.

(e) The HA is committed to providing elderly PRH tenants with a safe and convenient living environment so as to facilitate "Ageing in Place".

Over the years, the HA has been improving the design of PRH estates. Since 2002, the HA has been implementing "Universal Design" in all new PRH projects and has introduced various facilities to enhance the living environment of the elderly. Examples include provision of pedestrian routes with sufficient width for people in wheelchairs or who need to use walking aids; installation of non-slip floor tiles at corridors, kitchens and bathrooms within all units. Beyond these arrangements are in place to provide lever type door handles, lever type mixer taps and vertical rod type sliding shower heads within unit. We also arrange installation of large electrical switches and doorbells at optimum locations and will consider other features as appropriate. The HA constantly reviews the specifications for PRH units to ensure that the standard provisions suit the needs of tenants.
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Old July 5th, 2011, 05:20 PM   #135
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Singles face six-year itch in public rental flats wait
The Standard
Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Up to 30,000 single people under 30 are waiting for public rental housing - some for six years - the Legislative Council's housing panel has been told.

A pro-government legislator said the figures suggest many young people cannot afford private housing.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Eva Cheng Yu-wah told lawmakers there are 63,400 non-elderly single applicants on the rental waiting list, with 46 percent of them being under 30.

However, she said the maximum annual allocation quota for non-elderly single applicants is 2,000 units, pointing out that it is necessary to balance the needs of different groups given the limited public housing resources.

Several legislators said the quota is insufficient.

Wong Kwok-hing of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions said the government needs to review the quota and points system or some of the applicants may turn old by the time they receive a home.

Chan Hak-kan of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong urged the government to implement a housing policy targeting young people.

"The number is surprising. It shows that lots of young people cannot afford private housing," he said.

Under the current system, points are allotted according to one's age at the time of application, with zero for 18-year-olds and three points for every year after.

According to the Housing Department, there are 152,400 on the waiting list for public rental accommodation.

The federation urged the government provide 33,000 public housing units and 6,000 Home Ownership Scheme flats every year.

Federation president Ng Chau-pei said the the existence of subdivided flats demonstrates that many people cannot afford private housing.
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Old July 16th, 2011, 04:54 PM   #136
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Supply race on smaller flats
The Standard
Friday, July 15, 2011





The government plans to increase the supply of small- and medium-sized housing units as property prices soar.

Chief executive Donald Tsang Yam- kuen voiced the government's determination on the matter when he visited two Tung Chung plots yesterday.

One of the sites has size restrictions while the other is reserved for public housing development.

To meet "the housing needs of low- income families and individuals, we would continue to identify suitable sites for public housing ... [with] an average waiting time of three years," Tsang said.

Two weeks ago, Tsang also visited an industrial site in Fo Tan earmarked for Home Ownership Scheme projects.

Of the two Tung Chung plots, Area 55a, at 273,403 square feet, is the largest size-restricted site put on the market this year and will be sold by tender.

It will provide at least 2,020 units, of which 1,650 must be sized between 377 and 484 sq ft, with the rest measuring 484 to 646 sq ft.

Cheung Kong (0001), Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016), Nan Fung, and Hong Kong Resort International (0480) have already shown interest in the plot.

The other Tung Chung site, at Area 56, will be used for public housing.

The project, which is close to many private estates, has been opposed by some members of the District Council.

In a bid to get their support, the initial plan for 47-49 stories has been cut to 41, with built-in green facilities thrown in.

Meanwhile, tenders open today for an Oil Street plot expected to fetch HK$8 billion to HK$9.07 billion, or up to HK$ 12,000 per buildable square foot.

The 84,800 sq ft plot has a gross floor area of 755,600 sq ft.

Cheung Kong, Henderson Land (0012), Wheelock (0020), and KWah International (0173) have shown interest.

Meanwhile, more local lenders raised their mortgage rates.

Standard Chartered Bank (2888) raised its HIBOR-based rate to HIBOR plus 1.7-2.2 percent from HIBOR plus 1.5-2 percent earlier, while prime-based rates were raised to prime minus 2.5-2.8 percent from prime minus 2.75-3.1 percent. The new rates take effect today.

This follows hikes by HSBC and Bank of China (HK) (2388) last week.

Bank of Communications (3328) also lifted its Hong Kong interbank offered rate-based package to HIBOR plus 2 percent, effective from Monday.

This came as DBS Bank said it will quit the HIBOR market.

Alva To Yu-hung of DTZ Debenham Tie Leung expects deals for small and medium-size flats to drop 5-10 percent in the second half, as cooling measures and higher mortgage rates bite.
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Old July 17th, 2011, 05:35 PM   #137
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At what price a revived HOS?
The Standard
Thursday, June 30, 2011

With local home prices surging, the longshelved Home Ownership Scheme is on the table again. Despite the public's loud call for resumption of the subsidized housing program, it remains unclear whether it can help cool the hot property market.

The number of flats to be supplied each year along with pricing are also controversial. The way the market constantly changes, there is no assurance new flats can be built fast enough for supply to meet demand.

Permanent Secretary for Transport and Housing Duncan Pescod said the construction of new HOS flats may take up to seven years. Pescod's projection enraged members of the Housing Authority, who called for a timetable of five years.

"It will take at least five years for the government to build these flats, and they would not have an impact on the market until the supply is realized," said Ricky Poon Wai-ki, residential sales executive director of Colliers International.

Ever since Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen hinted earlier this month about the possibility of resuming the HOS, secondary property deals in the 50 major residential projects plunged about 50 percent to 150 deals, with prices falling about 2 percent, according to Ricacorp Properties.

Meanwhile, many vendors have slashed 5 to 10 percent off their asking prices.

But rather than the HOS factor, Poon attributed the drop-off in transactions more to the higher downpayments recently mandated by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

"Think about it, if a sharp decline is what the government had intended, it would have released to the market the few thousand HOS flats that are available right now. That would be a direct hit on property prices," Poon said.

According to Ricacorp, there are still 200 to 300 existing unsold HOS flats in the government's inventory.

"Of course, where to build these flats is also the key. Land plots in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island are very scarce now. So really, the new HOS flats will have to be in the New Territories," Poon said.

However, he noted that as evident at some recent land auctions, plots in places like Yuen Long have become popular among private developers - making it even more difficult for the government to find the right new locations.

In addition, some people believe the resumption of HOS flats could further exacerbate the shortage of land available for the private market. This would translate into the supply of new homes failing to meet ever-rising demand - therefore boosting property prices even higher.

According to Sing Tao Daily, sister publication of The Standard, the government plans to pick new HOS sites from the application list, with several plots in Tseung Kwan O and Tuen Mun becoming the most likely potential locations.

Before the subsidized home scheme was halted due to the housing slump in 2003, the government sold such flats to eligible low-income residents at prices far below the overall market. Discounts usually ran from 30 to 40 percent, with subsidies also provided on land value.

Poon said the key to pricing HOS flats lies in making them affordable to the low-income population.

"A 30 to 40 percent discount would be a reasonable range. HOS flats are meant for those who cannot afford the private flats on the market, such as the group who previously lived in public rental housing. So if you price these flats too high, no one in that group would be able to afford the flats," Poon said.

But Eddie Hui Chi-man, deputy director of the Research Centre for Construction and Real Estate Economics at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, remains dubious about the price range.

"With home prices currently shooting so high, and probably still surging, it is questionable to judge whether pricing the flats at a 30 percent discount is too high or too low," Hui said, adding the government faces a tough job in deciding on the pricing that will be satisfactory to the public.

While the HOS restricts the resale of the homes in the secondary market to low-income residents, it doesn't necessarily mean such flats can be had cheaply. As well, owners can offer to sell their HOS flats to the public by paying a small premium.

Earlier this month, a 587-square- foot HOS flat in Kornhill Garden fetched HK$4.77 million, or HK$8,123 per square foot - the highest psf price ever paid for a HOS flat in the territory. Current prices at the project average HK$7,500 psf.

Also, the portion dedicated to green form applicants (those currently living in public housing), and white form applicants (those who meet the income requirement but who haven't got a flat yet) also remains an issue.

To encourage more public housing tenants to vacate their current flats to accommodate those in the lowest income bracket, 80 percent of the HOS applications is dedicated to the green form group.

Some think that more should be given to the white form applicants, and the household income threshold should be lifted from the current HK$27,000 a month, so that more people will be eligible to apply for the HOS.
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Old July 28th, 2011, 03:41 PM   #138
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HA Chairman visits Kai Tak
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Government Press Release





The following is issued on behalf of the Housing Authority:

The Chairman of the Housing Authority (HA), Ms Eva Cheng, visited the Kai Tak Development Area and Choi Fook Estate in Kowloon East today (July 28) to keep herself updated on the public rental housing (PRH) project and to understand the living environment of public housing tenants in the area.

Ms Cheng first visited the large PRH project at Kai Tak, which has green coverage of 30 per cent.

Located at the north apron of the former Kai Tak Airport, the PRH development comprises two sites. Site 1A covers 3.47 hectares and will produce about 5 200 flats scheduled for completion by early 2013. Site 1B covers 5.7 hectares and will provide about 8 100 flats scheduled for completion in three phases from 2013 onwards. The two sites in total will provide a green living environment in the urban area for nearly 34 000 people.

Embracing the green concept, the Kai Tak PRH project has adopted a number of environmental features such as a photo-voltaic system utilising renewable energy, energy-efficient light fittings and a rainwater harvesting and plant irrigation system.

Recycled materials have also been widely used for construction works. These innovative moves include the use of marine mud excavated from the site mixed with small amount of cement for in-situ backfilling and for production of pavers. These initiatives can avoid the disposal of marine mud by dumping and land filling. Emission of CO2 created by transportation for dumping can also be eliminated.

The green treatment of marine mud for in-situ backfilling initiated by the HA has been awarded the Champion Environmental Paper by the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers.

Other green initiatives include establishing on-site concrete-batching plants and the adoption of prefabricated components such as precast bathrooms and kitchens, facades and staircases. These arrangements can streamline work procedures and reduce raw material wastage by a substantial amount.

The Kai Tak PRH project occupies a prime location and is well connected with the neighbouring areas by public transportation and footbridges. It is within only a 10-minute walk from the future Kai Tak Station of the Shatin-Central Link.

Ms Cheng then visited a retired couple at Choi Fook Estate in Ngau Tau Kok. They told Ms Cheng that their living environment had improved significantly after they moved into the estate from their old tenement flat at Ma Tau Wai. The two 70-year-olds made a special commendation on the barrier-free facilities in the estate, which they said had rendered tremendous convenience to their daily life. Conveniently connected by minibuses and the MTR station, the new home has made "aging in place" possible for the couple. They were allocated the existing PRH unit in less than two years under the Elderly Priority Scheme as both of them were over 60 when they submitted their application.
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Old August 2nd, 2011, 07:47 AM   #139
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List to be tapped for new HOS flats
23 June 2011
The Standard

Some of the sites from the application list will be used to build Home Ownership Scheme flats in the future, a government source told Sing Tao Daily, sister paper of The Standard.

From the latest application list, several plots in Tseung Kwan O and Tuen Mun are most likely to be potential sites for such flats.

In Tseung Kwan O, there are three plots of residential land _ Tseung Kwan O Area 66A, Area 77C1 and 66D1 _ with a total site area of 245,094 square feet. But pricing of future HOS flats poses a challenge.

``If flats are sold for 60-70 percent of the price of one in the private sector, which is how they were usually priced before, it will be too high,'' said Eddie Hui Chi-man, deputy director of Polytechnic University's Research Centre for Construction and Real Estate Economics. ``The government should decide on a clear target group that it aims to help and consider their income level, before deciding on the volume and price of the flats.''

Meanwhile, the Housing Authority plans to meet earlier than originally scheduled to discuss resumption of HOS construction. Some members have suggested turning some public housing buildings into HOS flats.

Henderson Land (0012) chairman Lee Shau-kee said it will not hurt the market if a small number of HOS flats are built, but he supports the idea of revitalizing old buildings.

According to Centaline Realty, transactions of HOS flats fell 24.6 percent in the first half of 2011 from a year ago to 4,090 _ the lowest during the past two years. Some HK$8.59 billion worth of transactions were recorded, down from HK$8.94 billion a year ago.

``Measures to curb the market since last year have hit buyers hard. It has also made them reluctant to purchase flats. With the recent hike in property prices and mortgage rates, buyers are now more cautious, which has also slowed down the HOS market,'' said Centaline research director Wong Leung-sing.

Since January, HOS homes priced between HK$2 million and HK$3 million recorded 1,682 deals.
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Old August 3rd, 2011, 01:01 AM   #140
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Nice Tower with a distance but do not zoom your camera...... ughhhhh!
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