Hong Kong’s January home prices edge up as optimism returns

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HONG Kong’s home prices snapped three months of decline in January, official data showed on Wednesday, starting 2021 with a modest gain amid a jump in launches and optimism that new vaccines will speed up the economic recovery.

Private home prices in one of world’s most expensive markets climbed 0.13 per cent last month, showed the data, compared with a revised 0.3 per cent drop in December.

Prices still rose 0.08 per cent in the full year of 2020 amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, barely extending a run of increases dating back to 2009 when prices were only a third of the current level.

Home transactions accelerated in February, as the financial centre stabilised from a new wave of coronavirus infections that started in November.

Realtor data showed that developers have launched over 2,000 new flats so far this year, over 60 per cent more than a year ago.

Property developers have also cast their vote of confidence in the property market by participating more actively in land auctions and offering higher bids this year.

A consortium led by Wharf Holdings won a premium land parcel at the Peak for a record floor price of US$7,000 per square foot earlier this month, while CK Asset won a mass residential site in Kowloon for US$1.33 billion last week.

Realtors generally expect home prices to stay sluggish in 2021 until vaccines are made widely available in the second half, with the full year seeing a gain of up to 5 per cent.

One million doses of the Sinovac vaccine arrived from Beijing in the former British colony last week, while Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is set to arrive in the city before the end of February.

Hong Kong’s 7.5 million residents can get vaccinated from Feb 26 onwards. REUTERS