Flats to be offered under the government’s new housing scheme are likely to cost half the market price, Apple Daily reports, citing Stanley Wong Yuen-fai, chair of the newly formed Task Force on Land Supply.
In a radio interview on Thursday, Wong, who also chairs the Housing Authority’s subsidized housing committee, said the new scheme is aimed at helping local first-time homebuyers who do not qualify for subsidized housing but cannot afford private flats, and as such, the units are expected to cost lower than units under the Home Ownership Scheme (HOS).
Since HOS flats currently cost around 70 percent of the market price, Wong said he believes units under the new scheme should be set at half the market price, or even 55 or 60 percent off if property prices rise further, in order to make them affordable to qualified applicants.
Since many families’ income has not risen as fast as home prices, it is necessary to cap the prices of flats under the new scheme, Wong said.
While Wong offered his opinions on flat prices, he said the new housing scheme is not what his panel should be concerned about.
Wong also said he is against the idea of setting a floor on the homebuyers’ monthly income for the new flats and “white form” applicants, or those living in private flats without receiving housing subsidy, should be allowed to apply, adding that there also should be no age limit for applicants.
As the first batch of flats under the new scheme is likely to be built in the New Territories, where home prices are generally lower than in urban areas, Wong called on the government to establish guidelines on the differences in selling prices.
In order to prevent prices from going up, Wong said the best way is to forbid the owners from selling the flats to anyone but the government, which can then resell them to those in need.
As for the government’s plan to undertake the new scheme through a public-private partnership, Wong said it is worth considering.
However, Wong Kwan, former chairman of the Federation of Public Housing Estates, said it is fair to set a floor for the buyers’ monthly income.
Meanwhile, a member of an experts’ concern group on land resources criticized the government for trying to use the public-private partnership model to help developers gain huge profits from the large amount of land parcels they own in the New Territories, saying such a situation has happened in the past.
Under the model, the government could offer land at concessional terms to developers, who will then sell a portion of the units they build to the government.
Based on data compiled by Apple Daily, Hong Kong’s four biggest developers－Henderson Land Development, Sun Hung Kai Properties, Cheung Kong Property and New World Development – own a combined 157 million square feet of farmland.
Both Henderson and Sun Hung Kai have said they welcome the new housing scheme.
– Contact us at [email protected]