Hong Kong Real Estate Market Prospects and Trends

Hong Kong by nightThe real estate industry is one of the major sectors in Hong Kong and it plays an important role in the economic development of the country. There is a growing demand of both residential and commercial properties and this demand is intensifying following the increasing population, formation of new businesses and increasing purchasing power by the consumers.

In Hong Kong, residential property has been a popular mean of investment since the last a few years.  At present, investors are showing interest in commercial properties as well considering the fast inflow of various foreign businesses. In recent years, different foreign organizations have set up business in Hong Kong and experts are of the opinion that these number will increase in the future, which will further influence the growth of the real estate market in different Hong Kong districts.

What the Property Consultants Say

Property consultants of Hong Kong are anticipating approximately 10% rise in prices of residential properties and in retail rents within the second half of 2014 owing robust business development in Hong Kong and the low-interest pace environment. A property market that is sizzling of course ensures a constant demand from the realtors. The booming market has thus draw the attention of market professionals and new entrepreneurs are choosing this field to develop their career.

The Real Estate Market for 2013-14

For the fiscal year of 2013-14, the Hong Kong government is intending to increase the supply of land to invite more business ventures and to develop real estate property business relatively. The government is following the same policy that it followed for the last fiscal year. Moreover, the same rule is being followed to increase the rate of residential completion within the next a few years. The Hong Kong government actually has planned to increase the level to 20,000 units every year.

Starting a Real Estate Business in Hong Kong

To start a real estate business in Honk Kong, one needs to meet a few criteria. The government schedules a few rules that are to follow from applying for the license to starting the business. Here we will discuss these issues in brief.  Let’s learn first who can apply for the license and what criteria to meet to get one. 

Who Can Apply for A Real Estate Agent License?

  • Individual professionals who are already holding a real estate license are able to apply for the agent license
  • If any professional tend to develop a partnership business then any of the two partners must have an agent license to continue with the business successfully.
  • All the real estate agencies are supposed to have one manager who will hold the agents license to manage the business operations effectively.
  • In order to avail an estate agent license, the agencies have to show particulars of a business, along with the previous license.
  • Individual, holding sales person license will be able to work as professional of a particular licensed agency only

What is a Real-Estate License Pre-requisite

If we want to qualify as a real estate agent in Hong Kong, we have to satisfy the government-determined pre-requisites. For example, the applicant should be an adult to be eligible for the agents’ license. The person has to proof that he or she has been 18 year old showing enough documents. Moreover, the applicant must have to complete the Form V education level (that stands for secondary education level) to avail the license.

Last but not the least, an applicant has to pass the industry examination at least 12 months before the license is issued. Two different industry exams are arranged by the government to choose eligible candidate to issue them license. These are- EAQE and SQE that stands for Estate Agent Qualifying Examination and Salesperson Qualifying Examination.

Future of Hong Kong Real Estate Market

In the future, Kowloon is going to be the most important source of commercial land supply in Hong Kong. To increase business prospects of the district, the Hong Kong government is planning to speed up the process of releasing two individual bunch of government sites. Experts believe that this will promote commercial development not only in this district but in the entire Hong Kong. Along with this, they are also preparing to develop three more business and commercial sites in this district within the fiscal year of 2013-14.

In order to stabilize real estate business in Hong Kong, the government is also ready to provide more than 16 hectares of land in Tuen Mun and Tsing Yi districts. This will promote the growth of logistics industry to some extend. All these initiatives will provide more than 3.2 million of logistics facilities in Hong Kong.

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120 yen per square meter in Japan

Ginza TokyoEnough to fall on the mat. Forget the over priced gold futon in uptown Tokyo. A Japanese town is trying to attract new inhabitants to the city with an unbeatable price: 1,20 euro per square meter!

Yuni, a small town of 5900 inhabitants on the large northern island of Hokkaido seeks to stop its decreasing population and repopulate. Are you ready for the country of the Rising Sun?

The proposed rate of 120 yen per square meter represents just 2% of the market price in this locality – 6,000 yen per square meter (75 US dollars) – and an infinitesimal fraction of the amount required for the same land area in the chic Ginza in Tokyo … more than 10 million yen (150,000 dollars).

“We want to encourage people from outside to come and live in our city to stop its demographic decline and revitalize,” said the municipality’s website.

A bit far from everything …

The authorities of Yuni, located an hour’s drive from the main city of Hokkaido, Sapporo, is selling eight lots, each 330 square meters for only 500 dollars! – From a former public housing project. The potential buyers must commit to build a house on the land and live there within three years.

Some 200 people, mostly residents of the metropolis of Tokyo, have informed about the terms of the sale two weeks after the commencement of the municipal offering, said an official of Yuni. Among these potential customers are few foreigners including a resident of Hong Kong. Only the Japanese or foreigners with a permanent residence in Japan have the right to buy the lots.

“Two Japanese have already filed all the necessary paperwork to buy,” the official added, Yasuhiko Nakamichi, noting that the municipality could hold a lottery to decide between multiple candidates for purchase after the deadline set for the submission of applications. “Our hills provide stunning views of the rice fields, it is one of our selling points,” he said, adding that the price of 120 yen per square meter was determined by reference to the age of the village based at the end of the 19th century.

Land prices in overcrowded Japanese metropolises remain among the highest in the world, despite years of deflation and economic mixed growth.

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A weak French market

The French real estate market seems to have frozen at the approach of winter. Over the past year, the number of sales has fallen sharply. After a rebound in late 2011 due to the anticipation of tightening of the taxation on real estate profits and the announcement of the demise of the zero loan in the second-hand market, the volume of transactions decreases inexorably.

In Ile-de-France, transactions have plunged 21% in the second quarter. France has entered into one of the three most serious housing crisis since the late 1970s. And this is likely to continue, because most sellers can wait. Without some public intervention to revive the market nothing will happen in the near term. While 858,200 transactions were recorded in 2011, the total sales could fall to 700,000 in 2012.

Despite this bleak picture, prices have so far resisted. In the Paris market, the imbalance between supply and demand appears relatively strong. In Paris, the drop should not exceed 5% to 8% a year, which should be enough to sustain demand. The Parisian market remains highly sought after and is so small that it is preserved from price collapse, as there is virtually no new buily homes.

Proof of this resilience, prices hit a new record this summer, with an average price per square meter of 8410 euros for the period from May to July, according to the Chamber of Notaries of Paris and Ile -de-France. For a four-room apartment, it costs 850,000 euros on average and no less than 250 000 euros for a studio of 30 m2. But this new record should not hide the fact that it is the price stabilization that dominates.

But Paris is not France: the capital is only a small fraction (3%) of transactions. In the provinces, cracks appear. The latest statistics show that the purge has begun in some cities. On the market for old apartments, significant declines were observed in Caen (- 13.4%), Pau (- 9.4%), Rouen (- 6.7%) and Metz (- 6%). For homes, it is in Marseille (- 5%), Valenciennes (- 6.1%) and Bethune (- 10.2%) than prices adjusted the fastest. Nothing dramatic, but the movement is initiated.

After a decade of euphoria, opinions are divided regarding future price drops. Some anticipate a decline of 8% to 10% for quality properties located in major regional cities within twelve to eighteen months. Downward could reach 20% to 40% in the periphery of cities under 100,000 inhabitants and in rural areas, according to housing quality and location. Against the backdrop of rising unemployment, fear paralyzes. Yet buying real estate homes commits over the long term. This is why it is the first to suffer in this kind of situation. However others do not believe in an adjustment with spectacular price changes. Historically, property prices in France go down very little in comparison to falling volumes, as most sellers prefer to wait rather than sell at a price below their expectation.

Particularly attractive mortgage rates, which helped the sharp decline in the market in 2008-2009, do not seem to support the market anymore. In September, they settled at 3.44% on average, against 3.95% six months earlier. As the average maturity, the elongation had helped fuel the surge in the purchase price over the past decade, it tends to decrease significantly since the beginning of the year. Evidence that banks take less risk in their lending to individuals. In September, the average maturity was 206 months, against 214 in early 2011.

In the first nine months of 2012, the mortgage market contracted by 31.9% yoy. Despite the rate getting lower and lower, the return takes place in a bleak time, with worried buyers. Month after month, the equation remains the same: the high price of real estate held by the scarcity of products, is at odds with the borrowing capacity of buyers.

In this situation the government’s room for maneuver is narrow. September 11, Cécile Duflot, Minister for Equal territories and housing, presented to the Senate a bill of general mobilization for housing. Among the key measures was included the provision of State land, the increase of 20% to 25% of the social housing in towns with more than 3500 inhabitants, a 20% reduction on thereal estate capital gains tax (excluding primary residences) in 2013 and the creation of new device tax incentives for rental investment.

Taking the objectives of the previous government, Cécile Duflot has announced plans to build 500,000 homes per year, including 150,000 social housing. An ambitious goal, while housing starts have not exceeded 380,000 in 2011 and are expected to fall to 320,000 in 2012. For a majority of experts, it can hardly be maintained. The government will not reach it in 2012, and probably not in 2013. This year, households are getting 120 billion of home loans. Given its budgetary situation, the state does not have the means to support the market. Only a powerful reinforcement of the support to the property market could change that, but it is not on the agenda.

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Property prices are stabilizing in China

Property prices in China have stabilized in June, with more cities on the upside then downside, the Chinese government announced, while buyers were encouraged by falling interest rates and waiting for a market rebound.

The new housing prices increased last month in 25 cities out of 70, against only six in May, according to a statement of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Prices remained unchanged in 24 other cities whereas they decreased in the remaining 21. This suggests some stabilization in the market after eight months of consecutive decline and despite the continued restrictions on the purchase of houses and apartments in China since more than two years.

To combat land speculation, the Beijin authorities have banned the purchase of a second housing, raised the minimum personal contribution to get a mortgage, introduced new property taxes in certain cities and implemented currency controls to purchase Chinese real estate.

Expectations of a market rebound is related to slower growth in the second world economy, which reached its lowest level in over three years in the second quarter at 7.6%, increasing the likelihood of further measures to support the activity in the second half of the year. The central bank has already cut interest rates twice in June and July, which drew upwards home sales by reducing the cost of mortgages, according to property analysts. Apparently some buyers had postponed their purchases and rushed to buy in June because of concerns about a rebound in housing prices.

Last week, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said that the stabilization of growth was the most urgent task of the Chinese government. Effectively they have to find a fine balance between cooling off the local market and avoiding a crash if the Chinese economy continues to slow down given the spectre of a global recession. Given that the restrictions have seriously curbed real estate speculation, reducing profits for most developers and pushing them near bankruptcy, it was time to stop pushing the brakes.

Ba Shusong, an economist close to the government, had among others called the authorities to lift the restrictions on the purchase of homes to support activity in real estate, pillar industry of the Chinese economy. Government officials are now considering if and when they should relax some of the restrictions to give some support to the local economy.

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