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Hong Kong home prices rise for 1st time in 6 mths

Private home prices rose 0.1% from a month ago in January, compared with December's revised 2.3% decline.

Hong Kong

HONG Kong private home prices posted their first month on month rise in six months in January, as sales rebounded in one of the world's least affordable property markets.

Prices rose 0.1 per cent from a month ago in January, government data showed, compared with December's revised 2.3 per cent decline.

Thomas Lam, executive director of Knight Frank, said while the data showed prices stabilising, a sustained recovery was unlikely.

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"Now the market is relatively stable, I forecast the index will rise another 0.5 per cent in February," he said. "I expect the property will continue to correct this year."

Knight Frank maintains its full year forecast for a 10 per cent decline this year with vulnerability seen in the so-called "nano flat" sector.

Over the past decade, ultra low interest rates, limited housing supply and large capital flows from mainland Chinese buyers helped push housing prices up more than 200 per cent. That bubble was burst in the middle of last year and prices have since come off 9 per cent.

A continued correction could lead to more cases of negative equity on residential mortgage loans, which resurfaced for the first time in two years in the last quarter of 2018.

Affordability is still an issue. A flat of 60 square metres on Hong Kong Island cost an average of HK$10.14 million (S$1.74 million) in January, according to official data.

On Wednesday, Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in the budget for the upcoming fiscal year that estimated public housing production for the next five years is 100,400 units, while private sector will complete 18,800 units annually, up 20 per cent from the past 5 years.

He added that the government has no intention to withdraw any demand-side management measures at this stage, which includes extra stamp duty, as home prices are still above people's affordability levels.

Leading developer Sun Hung Kai Properties said an easing of trade tensions between Beijing and Washington and banks' favourable mortgage plans would support Hong Kong's housing market. REUTERS