Date
21 October 2017
Rex Tso (right) can't afford to buy his own home. He is shown here with Thomas Lam, general manager of the sales department at Henderson Land. Photos: HKEJ, Bloomberg
Rex Tso (right) can't afford to buy his own home. He is shown here with Thomas Lam, general manager of the sales department at Henderson Land. Photos: HKEJ, Bloomberg

Even Rex Tso can’t beat property developers

There is something professional boxer Rex Tso cannot beat – Hong Kong’s high property prices.

The superflyweight champion, who has an amazing record of 21 wins and no losses, showed off his pugilistic skills at the launch of Henderson Land’s Novum West in Sai Ying Pun on Monday, but he didn’t seem as confident when it comes to buying his own home.

The 29-year-old Wonder Kid says he is still renting a flat on Hong Kong Island, for a hefty amount, and he’s trying hard to save enough money to buy his own home.

Poor Rex. The fighter, who is a married man, only hopes he will win more battles to be able to afford a convenient and comfortable nest for his family.

Rex likes his property sponsor, but tycoon Lee Shau-kee is asking for a minimum entrance fee of HK$5 million for his 174-square-foot unit. That’s close to HK$30,000 per square foot.

Even if Rex has seven-digit winnings, he might not wish to spend all of his money on the nano flat, although there is no sign of weakness in the property market.

With the property market as hot as himself, Rex does not have a lot of choices other than leasing, although rents, too, are going up sharply.

At least he can probably rule out the new product of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA).

In a blogpost, URA managing director Wai Chi-shing floated the idea of building shared space in its new units. This includes a common laundry or a mini-storage room at the basement for seasonal items such as blankets and jackets.

The URA is also thinking of introducing smart furniture that can maximize space and improve the quality of living.

His ideas were immediately shot down by critics who accuse him of winding back the clock to 50 years ago, when Hong Kong residents lived in housing estates with shared facilities such as kitchen and washroom.

But Wai believes his ideas make sense. He even cited government statistics showing that the number of families with no more than two residents each increased to 1.13 million last year, from about 900,000 in 2006.

And since small homes are now the trend, the URA and its joint-venture developers have agreed to build homes measuring only 260 square feet after deducting the balcony and work-station areas.

That is a great initiative by Wai, a former civil servant who lives in a 1,300-square-foot flat with a splended seaview in Tsim Sha Tsui.

But as pointed out by architects, legislators and even board members of the URA, the issue concerns the housing shortage and soaring home prices, and building nano flats doesn’t solve the problem.

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BK/AC/CG

EJ Insight writer

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