Hong Kong’s real estate market springs back

Scrapping decade-old curbs to reinvigorate the property sector amid economic challenges

The city’s prime location, superior infrastructure, and significant capital are factors that ensure its long-term success. BumbleDee/Shutterstock

Hong Kong has taken bold steps to rejuvenate its real estate market, which has suffered under a combination of economic pressures and regulatory constraints. According to Reuters, Financial Secretary Paul Chan announced the removal of all additional stamp duties and other demand-side management measures that had been in place for a decade. This move is part of a broader effort to stimulate the city’s economy, which is projected to grow between 2.5 to 3.5 percent this year. 

The South China Morning Post reported that despite the challenges of the past four years, including the pandemic, social unrest, and global economic turmoil, experts like Christian Ulbrich, CEO of JLL, remain optimistic about Hong Kong’s future. Ulbrich cited the city’s prime location, superior infrastructure, and significant capital as factors that ensure its long-term success. 

In a parallel development reported by The Business Times Hong Kong experienced a surge in home sales the weekend following the lifting of these restrictions. The second-hand market saw a 3.5 times increase in transactions at the city’s ten biggest estates, and new projects have sold out within hours, with units being 31 times oversubscribed. These events indicate a pent-up demand ready to be unleashed by the easing of property curbs. 

These measures, as outlined by Reuters, include cutting all additional stamp duties for foreign buyers and those purchasing second properties, as well as for those selling flats within two years of buying them. Moreover, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has adjusted the property mortgage loan policies, raising the maximum amount homebuyers can borrow for some purchases, which is expected to further stimulate the market. 

Related: Landmark 10th edition of the PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards (Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau) elevates preeminent developers, designers

Ricky Wong, Vice-Chairman at developer Wheelock Properties, expressed to Reuters that these changes could “stimulate locals and overseas people to buy homes for their own use and attract investors to re-enter the property investment market.” This sentiment reflects a consensus that while immediate challenges persist, such as high-interest rates and a vast inventory, the medium-term outlook for Hong Kong’s property market could be more favourable. 

The city’s strategic move to deregulate comes at a critical time. As Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Patrick Wong noted, while the removal of extra taxes and loosening of mortgage rules are significant, the “heavy artillery” of interest rate cuts might still be necessary to fully reignite investment demand in the housing sector. 

Amid these regulatory changes, the property market in Hong Kong and Macau continues to achieve recognition on the global stage, as evidenced at the 18th PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards Grand Final 2023. Notable awards included the PropertyGuru Icon Award to Dr. Allan Zeman of the Lan Kwai Fong Group, Best Hospitality Development (Asia) to The Fullerton Ocean Park Hotel Hong Kong by Sino Land Company Limited, and Best Retail Development (Asia) to M8 by China Construction Engineering (Macau) Company Limited. 

Hong Kong’s government is actively working to restore confidence and vitality to its property market with a series of reforms aimed at reducing barriers and attracting capital. While the immediate impact has been positive, sustaining this momentum will require continued strategic adjustments and possibly further policy support.

Know of any award-worthy residential, commercial, or industrial projects in the territories? Nominate them for the 11th annual PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards (Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau) on or before 13 Sept 2024.  

Gynen Kyra Toriano, Digital Content Manager at PropertyGuru, wrote this article. For more information, email: [email protected].