Date
20 July 2018
The budget plan unveiled by Financial Secretary Paul Chan on Wednesday failed to address the woes of the housing tenant, who is probably the biggest victim of the city's irrational property boom. Photo: CNSA
The budget plan unveiled by Financial Secretary Paul Chan on Wednesday failed to address the woes of the housing tenant, who is probably the biggest victim of the city's irrational property boom. Photo: CNSA

Bigger budget, smaller homes

How does one account for the situation in Hong Kong where we have a bigger than big budget surplus yet we live in smaller than small homes?

Worse still, the budget plan unveiled by Financial Secretary Paul Chan on Wednesday failed to address the woes of the tenant, arguably the biggest victim of the city’s irrational property boom, through tax rebates or other measures.

Ask Lui Che-woo, the owner of mid-sized property firm K Wah International and casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group, who always has some wise words to share.

The 89-year-old tycoon said he felt the frustration of Hong Kong people living in small units after visiting countries where working-class families live in homes with large grass backyards.

Not fair, he said, because high property prices have made our homes smaller and smaller – the kitchen and bedroom, along with toilet and what makes for a living room, all fit in a 200-square-foot unit.

But bless the people of Hong Kong for their patience and ability to adjust to any situation, he said, noting that a homebuyer gets a 10 percent discount on the first purchase (which is another way of saying that they don’t need to pay the extra 15 percent special stamp duty) and the down payment can be as low as 10 percent (although the mortgage rate would be much higher than the usual 30 percent of the down payment).

But he admitted home prices are really high because everyone seems to want a piece of Hong Kong property.

The Chinese always believe in investing in property, and so do foreign buyers who abide by Hong Kong’s status as an international financial hub.

Lui’s comments on the property market made more sense this time, compared to his observation a year ago when he told journalists that their salary level allows them to save for a few months enough money for the down payment of a decent unit.

No, local journalists, either from grassroots families or a few from the middle class, are still victims of surging property prices, but yes, they are patient and flexible.

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CG

EJ Insight writer

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