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Property News Weekly Digest
〈The Standard, Mar 11, 2022〉The Strong opposition from ‘angry’ developers and landlords is causing second thoughts on the part of Chief Executive Carrie Lam, sources say

A rental deferment proposal by the financial secretary to help struggling business tenants may be in jeopardy amid mounting opposition from developers and landlords, the Post has learned.

Sources said Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is seeking an informal meeting soon with her Executive Council to gauge their views on Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po’s budget proposal to allow tenants of commercial properties to postpone rental payments for up to three months.

"This proposal may not sail through the Legislative Council, as it has run into vehement opposition from developers and landlords who fear it will cause them cash flow problems. They simply want it to be scrapped," one source said.

〈Asian Post, Mar 10, 2022〉Hong Kong-listed Wharf (Holdings) has cut its home sales guidance on the mainland to 9 billion yuan (HK$11.1 billion), the lowest in over a decade, amid an uncertain market outlook, low supply and price controls.

This came after its property sales on the mainland fell by 20 per cent to 13.9 billion yuan for the year to the end of December 2021, according to an exchange filing yesterday.

The company sold 3,625 units totalling 452,000 square metres, which mainly came from projects in Hangzhou and Suzhou.

"For many years, we have not experienced mainland property sales of less than 10 billion yuan," chairman and managing director Stephen Ng Tin-hoi said at a briefing. "For the past eight to 10 years, we sold more than 10 billion yuan [each year]."

〈Asian Post, Mar 9, 2022〉Soho China is offering a portion of commercial properties in Beijing and Shanghai at a deep discount to raise cash and pay down debt, as it seeks to capitalise on early signs of a rebound in the pandemic-hit market.

The developer would sell about 32,000 square metres from its portfolio in the two cities at a 30 per cent discount, East Money Information reported yesterday, citing chairman Pan Shiyi as saying in a presentation to investors.

The size amounts to less than 4 per cent of its combined assets of 830,654 square metres in nine office and serviced-flat projects at the end of June 2020, according to the company’s interim report published in August.

"All the proceeds will be used to cut debt," Pan was quoted as saying in response to market concerns about the group’s asset sales plan and debut burden.

To accelerate sales, Soho China would increase the agent commission fee to 4 per cent of the transaction value, he added.

〈China Daily, Mar 8, 2022〉Housing crisis calls for clear strategy

Amid mounting living costs and the long waiting time for public flats, the government could consider providing subsidised homes for young couples

In early December, the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) released the "Worldwide Cost of Living 2021" report.

Hong Kong, which ranked first last year, fell to fifth place below Zurich by end of last year, while Tel Aviv, in Israel, became the city with the highest cost of living in the world for the first time, mainly because of the soaring local exchange rate and the sharp rise in prices of commodities and real estate, especially residential buildings.

The more developed a city is, the higher its cost of living will be, meaning that all basic living necessities become a heavy burden to the people in the city.

〈The Standard, Mar 7, 2022〉Asian investors are expected to step up their bets on London’s office property market this year, lured by lower ESG and climate-related risks and good prospects for rent and capital appreciation, according to market consultants.

They are seen doubling their investments to £4.1 billion (HK$42.2 billion), making up 39 per cent of all inbound spending by global investors into the British capital, according to Christine Li, head of research for Asia-Pacific at Knight Frank. That would be an increase from about 25 per cent last year.

"Investors are increasingly looking to invest in locations that have lower climate risk, have prospects for innovation-led growth and have a greater pool of buildings that meet ESG (environmental, social and governance) criteria," said Shabab Qadar, London research partner at Knight Frank.

The core London market enjoyed a 7 per cent increase in office rents last year, while capital appreciation was 15 per cent, Qadar said. The British pound has weakened 3.1 per cent this year as the Ukraine war unnerved investors and hurt growth outlook. Since 2019 and before the pandemic, the pound has only lost 1.2 per cent against the US dollar.