Tuesday 21 January 2020

Hong Kong home owners in minority for the first time

Hong Kong’s property prices have tripled since 1999
Hong Kong’s property prices have tripled since 1999

Eric Lam

For the first time in almost two decades, home owners are in the minority in Hong Kong, underlining the city's status as the world's least affordable property market.

Only 49.2pc of domestic households in Hong Kong were owners of the living space they occupied as of the end of 2017, the lowest since 1999, according to data released by the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department this week. The value peaked at 54.3pc in 2004.

By comparison, the household home-ownership rate in the greater New York area was 49.9pc on average in 2017, according to US Census Bureau data. In Singapore, where the public can obtain government housing, the rate exceeds 90pc.

Hong Kong's property prices have tripled since 1999, thanks to abundant liquidity and limited supply of apartments, according to the Centaline Property Centa-City Leading Index.

The city was named the least affordable property market in the world for an eighth year by Demographia, an urban planning policy consultancy, beating almost 300 metropolitan housing markets across nine countries. The median price of a home in Hong Kong is 19.4 times the median annual pre-tax household income, up from 18.1 times in the previous study by Demographia. Cooling measures have failed to tame the situation, with prices more than double the 1997 levels preceding a crash that obliterated two-thirds of value.

The study took in 293 metropolitan housing markets across nine countries, including Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States. Twenty-eight major housing markets were classed as "severely unaffordable," with locations in California taking six of the top 10 slots. Hong Kong came in ahead of Sydney and Vancouver as the least affordable housing market.

With assistance by Paul Panckhurst


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