Date
17 January 2017
Lau Ming-wai (inset) has advised the youth to save more if they want to buy a house. But the sad reality is that even with the greatest efforts, most people in HK will be able to afford flats only in remote locations or have to settle for very tiny units.
Lau Ming-wai (inset) has advised the youth to save more if they want to buy a house. But the sad reality is that even with the greatest efforts, most people in HK will be able to afford flats only in remote locations or have to settle for very tiny units.

Looking for homes below HK$3 mln? Go to Pearl Island!

Forgive the tycoon’s son who recently offered irksome advice to young people on how they should start saving if they want to realize their home-ownership dream.

Now, there is indeed some property in Hong Kong that prudent savers can have a realistic shot at.

But it is on the remote Pearl Island near Tuen Mun where there are few transport options, and almost no dining or shopping facilities. 

Some units of Pearl Island Villa are available for below HK$3 million, with a unit going for as low as HK$2.25 million, according to Apple Daily.

That would be a good defense for Lau Ming-wai, son of tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-hung, who advised youngsters last week the importance of saving money to counter the skyrocketing property prices.

Lau has suggested that a person earning HK$15,000 a month should save as much as HK$3,000.

His advice was slammed by many youngsters as being unrealistic, but let us examine what can be achieved if one does indeed save that much.

If you put away HK$3,000 every month, you’ll have HK$36,000 in a year and HK$360,000 in a decade. That will get you to a HK$3 million home in Pearl Island, assuming that you can take on a 90-percent mortgage.

If your partner also makes HK$15,000 per month and has sworn that he or she will never buy an iPhone, go to the cinema or travel to Japan as per Lau’s advice, you’ll be able to make the down-payment in just five years.

Of course, there will be this question of how to service the HK$2.64 million mortgage over the next two decades. You’ll just have to tighten your belts further, even assuming that your income levels would go up.

But look at the bright side: you’ll have your own home in a market where prices are going mostly one way — up!

Take the case of Uncle Tsui, a 60-year-old man who bought a 286-square-foot Pearl Island unit five years ago. He is now happily living there with his wife, having bought the home for just half a million.

Pearl Island is about 15 minutes drive from Gold Coast, Tuen Mun. The island, which stretches for about 0.87 kilometers, has four residential blocks. 

A 286-square-foot unit with seaview and/or garden is commanding monthly rental of HK$6,800 at the estate. 

There is no McDonald’s or Park’nShop outlet, not even a 7-11 shop. Depending on how you look at life, this could be heaven or this could be hell.

Even if you are an urban person craving all the conveniences, the realities of the local property market mean that you cannot ignore options such as Pearl Island. 

It is now rare to find a two-bedroom unit in the city that is priced below HK$5 million. The wealth effect, thanks to a booming stock market, is only adding fuel to the fire.

A two bed-room unit in Tin Shui Wai, 30 minutes away by rail from Tsim Sha Tsui, is being offered at a rent of more than HK$10,000, marking a near 20 percent increase since April.

On the east side, even a village house in Sheung Shui, also about 30 minutes from Tsim Sha Tsui, also has an asking rental in five digits.

The going rent for a 200-square-foot unit in Mont Vert, Tai Po, is around HK$7,300 a month.

Living in shoe-box sized units, or sub-divided flats, is a grim reality for almost 200,000 people in the city as of now.

For many, this is the price of living in Hong Kong.

We now wonder whether Lau Ming-wai, who is seen as a rising star among the local elites, will have something more to say in the coming months.

–Contact us at [email protected]

BK/JP/RC

EJ Insight writer

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