Hong Kong home prices rise 0.9% in February; fastest pace in 9 months – ET RealEstate

HONG KONG: Hong Kong private home prices rose 0.9% in February from the previous month, their fastest pace of growth since May, official data showed on Monday, supported by improved sentiment that new coronavirus vaccines will speed up the economic recovery.

The gain in the most unaffordable property market in the world last month compared with a revised 0.2% increase in January.

Driven by robust demand and low interest rates, transaction volume in the secondary market in March is expected to reach an over eight-year high, estimated by realtor Centaline, while first quarter volume could rise to a six-year high.

Property consultancy Cushman & Wakefield said earlier this month it expects home prices to rise 5% quarter-to-quarter in April-June.

It said the market has bottomed out in the first quarter, thanks to the early arrival of new vaccines, strong pent-up demand and booming stock market.

But high unemployment would weigh on the market in the mid term, the consultancy added.

Hong Kong’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rose to 7.2% in the December-February period, the highest since 2004.

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Home prices in Hong Kong fall 0.6% in October – ET RealEstate

HONG KONG: Private home prices in Hong Kong eased 0.6% in October, weighed down by a bigger drop for large apartments, official data showed on Thursday.

The fall last month compared to a revised 0.4% gain in September, according to data from the Rating and Valuation Department. Prices have risen 0.4% so far this year.

Prices in one of the world’s most expensive property markets had been resilient despite the COVID-19 outbreak and political uncertainties, supported by strong demand and low interest rates.

Property agents expect new developments and relaxed social distancing measures in October to support sales and prices in the short term, although the outlook for 2021 is for further weakness.

Rating agency S&P said this week it expected Hong Kong home prices to fall a further 5% in 2021, due partly to rising unemployment.

Total transaction volume in the secondary market so far this year has surpassed the full-year volume in 2019, realtor Centaline said. It expects 2020 transaction value to exceed last year’s to become the third-highest on record.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Wednesday the government had no plan to adjust stamp duty rates for residential properties, citing tight housing supply and prices “beyond the reach of the average households”.

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BP to sell London headquarters for $332 million to Lifestyle International – ET RealEstate

LONDON: BP has agreed to sell its London headquarters for 250 million pounds ($332 million), a spokesman said on Friday, the latest in a string of disposals as the British energy company shifts to low-carbon energy.

BP also agreed to lease 1 St James’s Square in central London back from Hong Kong-based property investment company Lifestyle International for two years, a BP spokesman said.

Lifestyle International also announced the deal in a filing on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

BP, led by CEO Bernard Looney, aims to sell $25 billion of assets by 2025, around half of which it has already divested or agreed a deal on, in an effort to reduce debt as it shifts to low carbon energy investments.

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Swire Properties sells Hong Kong office tower to Gaw-led consortium for $1.27 billion – ET RealEstate

HONG KONG: Swire Properties Ltd has agreed to sell an office tower in eastern Hong Kong Island to a consortium comprising a fund managed by real estate private equity firm Gaw Capital Partners and other partners for HK$9.85 billion ($1.27 billion).

Hong Kong-listed property arm of Swire Pacific Ltd has agreed to sell the entire office building, Cityplaza One, to Rocha Land Ltd, in a move to realise cash from its investment for use in general working capital, Swire Properties said in a filing to the Hong Kong bourse late on Monday.

The property group said the deal is part of its ongoing business strategy of disposing certain non-core assets to enable the company to recycle capital and channel it to new projects.

“We remain committed to Hong Kong and to our long-term investment strategy in our home market,” an official with Swire Properties said in a statement. “We’re confident in the Hong Kong office market’s long-term outlook.”

Swire Properties said the deal will be settled partly by cash and by the issue of shares representing 37% of the holding company of Rocha Land, which in turn will represent an indirect equity interest of 37% in the Cityplaza One property.

Swire Properties is expected to record a gain on disposal of about HK$2.01 billion on a statutory basis, while Swire Pacific is expected to record an attributable gain on disposal of about HK$1.65 billion on a statutory basis, it added.

Separately, Swire Pacific’s flagship carrier Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd is undergoing a restructuring, recently announcing that it will slash 5,900 jobs and end its regional carrier as it grapples with a plunge in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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