BloombergNew mortgage loans approved in Hong Kong dropped 11.1 percent in November, after the city’s government voiced concerns over potential asset bubbles and implemented measures to cool surging home prices.
Loans fell to HK$25.8 billion ($3.3 billion) from HK$29 billion in October, declining for a fifth consecutive month, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority said in a statement today. The value of new home loans drawn down fell 1.2 percent to HK$20.9 billion, the HKMA said.
Home prices in Hong Kong have jumped about 30 percent this year and prompted the central bank to warn of “sharp corrections” after a flood of speculative “hot money” from overseas. Real estate values surged even as the economy struggled to emerge from a recession, with exports expanding in November for the first time in 13 months.
“Both buyers and apartment owners were taking a wait-and- see approach in November, when prices were climbing back to levels from 2008,” said David Ng, head of regional property research at ABN Amro Bank NV. Ng said Hong Kong’s property advance should slow next year, with prices rising about 5 percent.
Sino Land Co. and K Wah International Holdings Ltd. yesterday bought two waterfront sites in Hong Kong’s New Territories for HK$10.4 billion, falling short of estimates, at auction.
The auction result sent shares of property companies, the best performers this year in Hong Kong, lower yesterday in Hong Kong. The Hang Seng Property Index recovered today, with a gain of 1.2 percent.
The November mortgage figures “show a slowdown in the second-hand market,” said Wong Leung-sing, an associate director at Centaline Property Agency Ltd.
“Looking forward, property prices are expected to rise in the first half, as Hong Kong’s economy looks pretty good,” Wong said. “But the size of the increase remains to be seen as there are too many uncertainties, particularly the trend of the dollar.”
Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang said today in Beijing the economy could experience a “double dip” in the middle of next year. While saying he is “a bit pessimistic,” Tsang said Hong Kong has the fiscal strength to cope if it happens.
More than HK$640 billion flowed into Hong Kong since October last year, Hong Kong Monetary Authority Chief Executive Norman Chan said this month. Asset bubbles are the “No. 1 threat” to financial stability in Asia, he said.
In October, Hong Kong raised down-payment requirements on loans for homes valued at more than HK$20 million to 40 percent from 30 percent of the price to curb speculation.
Inflows of speculative capital will continue to drive asset prices in Asia for “a considerable period” because of limited or zero growth prospects in industrialized economies, Fan Gang, a member of the monetary policy committee at China’s central bank, said yesterday in Beijing. Fan’s comment came a day after Premier Wen Jiabao vowed to tackle excessive increases.
The struggle by Asian leaders to contain property prices contrasts with the U.S., where home values continue to fall. Prices in 20 metropolitan areas probably fell 7.1 percent in October from a year earlier, according to the median forecast of 29 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News ahead of a pending report from S&P/Case-Shiller.
Low mortgage costs, near-zero interest rates on savings deposits and buying by mainland Chinese this year pushed existing home prices up by 28 percent as of Dec. 20, according to the Centa-City Leading Index, a weekly measure developed by Centaline and the City University of Hong Kong.
On a year-on-year basis, Hong Kong home transactions almost tripled in November from a year earlier, figures from the Land Registry showed earlier, marking the eighth straight monthly gain.
Henderson Land said in October it set a global record by selling an apartment for HK$88,000 ($11,354) a square foot on a net area basis.
To contact the reporter on this story: Kelvin Wong in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.org