Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg

Hong Kong Private Housing Construction Reaches 16-Year High

  • Housing starts rose 80 percent in 2016 to 25,500, data show
  • Curbs introduced in November didn’t dent fourth-quarter starts

Hong Kong’s construction of private residential units reached a 16-year high in 2016, a year that the city’s leaders stepped up efforts to cool the world’s costliest property market.

Developers started building a total of 25,500 private apartments last year, up 80 percent from 2015, the Transport and Housing Bureau said in a release on its website on Friday. That was the highest since 2000, when housing starts were at 30,100 units. Some 94,000 units will become available to buyers in the next three to four years, according to the bureau.

The number of private units on which construction started more than doubled to 6,400 in the fourth quarter from the previous three months, suggesting that the November curbs have yet to cool the pace of building by developers.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying raised the stamp duty in November to 15 percent for all residential purchases -- except for first-time buyers who are permanent residents -- in an attempt to rein in rising prices. Prices of secondary homes, which account for about 70 percent of sales volume, are up nearly 40 percent since he took office in July 2012 and increased 7.7 percent last year. They are hovering just 1.8 percent shy of their September 2015 record.

Hong Kong retained its rank as the most expensive housing market among 406 major metropolitan regions in the annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey for the seventh year in a row. The median price of a home in Hong Kong last year was 18.1 times the median annual pretax household income, the survey showed.

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