20 February 2019
Chief Executive Carrie Lam will unveil details of the new home ownership scheme in her policy address next month. Photo: CNSA
Chief Executive Carrie Lam will unveil details of the new home ownership scheme in her policy address next month. Photo: CNSA

Govt to roll out new home ownership scheme for first-time buyers

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is set to announce a new scheme for first-time homebuyers who do not qualify for subsidized housing but cannot afford private flats, reports.

Details of the proposal will be unveiled during her first policy address next month.

Under the existing requirements of the Home Ownership Scheme (HOS), the total monthly household income for applicants using the “White Form” (those living in private flats who do not receive a housing subsidy) is HK$52,000. The new scheme could raise the limit to HK$72,000.

Sources said the adjustment is likely to be more than HK$10,000 or it will not be much different from the HOS.

However, those who have already bought HOS flats or other properties will not be eligible to apply for the new scheme, which is strictly for first-time buyers, the sources said.

Speaking to reporters after attending a housing forum on Wednesday, Lam said the size, design, and furnishing of flats under the scheme will be modest to fulfill the basic housing needs of young families.

She said she is confident they will be able to afford private units in the future as the government continues to increase the housing supply.

On the newly-formed Task Force on Land Supply, which held its first meeting on Wednesday, Lam said she will attend some of its meetings to express her demands and hopes.

There has always been a gap between the HOS and the plan for the so-called sandwich class in terms of income limits.  Back in 2001, the limit under the HOS was HK$31,000 a month while that for the sandwich class was set at HK$60,000.

It is probable that the limit for the HOS scheme will be lowered as private housing prices decline, and the new scheme will be adjusted accordingly, the sources said.

Hong Kong Housing Society chairperson Wu Moon-hoi and former Long-Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee member Wong Kwun said the targets of the new scheme and the HOS should not overlap, and thus setting a higher limit is a reasonable move.

Wu said if the income limit under the new scheme is set below that of the HOS, it would attract people who are slightly out of range for the HOS, but this group of people might not be financially capable to support the mortgage payments in the long term.

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