Hong Kong government to sell cheap homes in 2019

Starter home programme to hoist first-time buyers on the property ladder

Hong Kong skyline. Saranphon Chairin/Shutterstock

The first batch of affordable starter homes from the Hong Kong government will be open to applicants in January, the Chinese-language Hong Kong Economic Journal reported, citing unidentified sources.

In efforts to help first-time buyers priced out of the market, a government programme will offer 450 residential units in Kowloon at around HKD13,000 (USD1,662) per square foot — 38 percent below market levels.

The programme will “accommodate a very small portion of those wanting to get on the housing ladder,” said Denis Ma, head of research at Jones Lang LaSalle Inc, via Bloomberg.

Eligible applicants will be limited to single permanent residents with a monthly income not exceeding HKD37,000. Successful owners will then be compelled to hold their assets for a certain period.

The starter homes were introduced in Carrie Lam’s first address after her election in 2017. She has since mulled dramatic initiatives to mitigate the Chinese SAR’s housing affordability crisis, including the building of artificial islands near Lantau and levying a vacancy tax on unsold apartments.

More than 260,000 applications have been submitted this year so far for 4,431 flats.

Hong Kong’s home prices have risen nearly 50 percent in five years, although they have seen a dip over the past four months, Bloomberg reported, citing research from Centaline Property Agency.