Hong Kong's Property Frenzy Is Spreading to Public Housing

  • Apartment smaller than a parking space sells for HK$2 million
  • Investors snap up smaller units for attractive rental yield

Hong Kong's property stocks may be cheaper than Singapore's, but that doesn't make them more attractive. That's because more analysts fear that Hong Kong real estate is teetering on the edge of a slump, while Singapore's market shows signs of bottoming out. Bloomberg's Sree Vidya Bhaktavatsalam reports on 'Bloomberg Markets: Asia.' (Source: Bloomberg)

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Hong Kong’s property boom is spreading to public housing.

A 126-square-foot apartment at the Fung Tak Estate in Hong Kong’s Kowloon district sold for HK$1.95 million ($250,000) early last month, a record for a public-housing unit, Full Mark Property Agency said. The HK$15,476 per square foot price even topped some private flats in the district -- an apartment at Lions Rise, a private development a 15-minute walk from Fung Tak, recently sold for $14,638 per square foot, Centaline Property Agency figures show.

Public-housing flats aren’t the only properties breaking records in Hong Kong’s gravity-defying market. A car park in Central sold for $3 billion in May, a waterfront residential site fetched $2.2 billion in February and the city’s gauge of home prices reached a record high earlier this month.

Property agents say buyers for small public-housing units are mostly investors, as the rental yield can reach 4 percent or more. The average rental yield for small units is 2.8 percent, according to the Rating and Valuation Department.

“Small single flats for rent are rare and popular in the area, they usually get rented out within a month after the transactions are done,” said Kim Chan, a branch manager at Full Mark Property Agency.

The public housing units are a holdover from a program that previously allowed tenants to buy apartments they were renting at subsidized costs. The homeowners who had bought properties under the now-discontinued Tenants Purchase Scheme are still allowed to resell their houses in the open market, provided they pay a premium to the government.

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