News / Asia

Asia's Wealthiest Man: HK Property Speculators Beware

Chinese tycoon Li Ka-shing in front of Hutchison Whampoa company logo, Hong Kong, March 26, 2013.
Chinese tycoon Li Ka-shing in front of Hutchison Whampoa company logo, Hong Kong, March 26, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Reuters
A series of tightening measures have put the brakes on Hong Kong's overheated property sector, forcing developers to cut prices and prompting a warning from Asia's richest man Li Ka-shing: speculators stay away.

Developers say a sixth round of cooling measures imposed last month to rein in prices and to avoid an asset bubble are now having an impact on sales.

"If you are speculating, I would suggest that you stay away in such a volatile market because no one knows what will happen next," Li told a news conference after his company Cheung Kong [Holdings] Ltd. announced its first annual decline in net profit in five years.

"Look at your pocket first and don't take risks," Li said.

In late February, Financial Secretary John Tsang imposed a new round of steps to curb prices that have doubled since 2008, saying they were needed to keep the potential economic risk from spreading in the financial hub.

The new measures included higher stamp duties and home loan curbs on property transactions.
 
In the first three weeks of March, second-home transactions plunged to their lowest since the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, when Hong Kong's real estate market hit an all-time low, according to data from property agent Midland Realty.
 
"We only recorded two deals from the 10 large-scale residential estates during the past two weeks," said Wong Leung Sing, an analyst at Centaline Property Agency, who described the market as the worst he's ever seen.
 
"The market might head in two different directions: Prices stay the same with a plunge in transactions, or prices will just collapse," Wong added, explaining that home prices may drop as much as 20 percent in the second quarter.
 
Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd., the world's No.2 property company by market value, has also cautioned about the impact of the tightening measures and lowered its sales target for this financial year by 9 percent.
 
Analysts say Cheung Kong has been forced to cut prices to boost sales in a lethargic market.
 
Cheung Kong, Hong Kong's second-largest property developer after Sun Hung Kai Properties, cut the price of a new project in the city by 6 to 17 percent, according to Macquarie Equities Research.
 
Cheung Kong on Tuesday logged a 30 percent fall in 2012 net profit from a year earlier, although the total net profit of HK$32.2 billion ($4.1 billion) beat analysts' expectations.
 
Over the past three years, property prices have surged in Hong Kong, one of the world's most expensive property markets, on ultra-low interest rates, tight supply and abundant liquidity.
 
Correction on the cards

Along with government tightening, a number of banks raised mortgage rates by 25 basis points earlier this month.
 
"We think the rate hike has psychological impact more than actual impact to buyers," Dennis Wu, research analyst at Phillip Securities, wrote in a note last week.
 
Wu said a big drop in property prices in the past was only triggered by major events, such as the financial crisis in 1997 and the SARS outbreak in 2003.
 
"But in view of property prices at historically high levels, government damping non-user demand and some property developers offering a price discount, we maintain a 5 to 10 percent reasonable correction forecast for 2013 property prices."
 
Despite signs of slowdown, the Centa-City Leading Index, a widely used indicator of the city's residential price trends, is now at a record 123.7. That's 1.7 percent higher than mid-February.
 
Property developers in the Chinese special administrative region have so far seen limited impact from ongoing government tightening.
 
On Monday, Henderson Land Development Co Ltd. recorded a 28 percent year-on-year rise for 2012 underlying profit, while Agile Property Holdings Ltd.'s net profit rose 22 percent during the same period.
 
Henderson said in statement the cooling measures had resulted in a moderate downtrend in property prices and a drastic drop in property transactions.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid