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[HONG KONG] Hong Kong's construction of private residential units reached a 16-year high in 2016, a year that the city's leaders stepped up efforts to cool the world's costliest property market.
Developers started building a total of 25,500 private apartments last year, up 80 per cent from 2015, the Transport and Housing Bureau said in a release on its website on Friday.
That was the highest since 2000, when housing starts were at 30,100 units. Some 94,000 units will become available to buyers in the next three to four years, according to the bureau.
The number of private units on which construction started more than doubled to 6,400 in the fourth quarter from the previous three months, suggesting that the November curbs have yet to cool the pace of building by developers.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-Ying raised the stamp duty in November to 15 per cent for all residential purchases - except for first-time buyers who are permanent residents - in an attempt to rein in rising prices.
Prices of secondary homes, which account for about 70 per cent of sales volume, are up nearly 40 per cent since he took office in July 2012 and increased 7.7 per cent last year. They are hovering just 1.8 per cent shy of their Sept 2015 record.
Hong Kong retained its rank as the most expensive housing market among 406 major metropolitan regions in the annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey for the seventh year in a row.
The median price of a home in Hong Kong last year was 18.1 times the median annual pretax household income, the survey showed.