Two of Hong Kong’s largest property developers will compete head to head next month for buyers, in what will be an important test of the health of the world’s most expensive real estate market.
CK Asset Holdings, founded by the city’s wealthiest man Li Ka-shing, will start selling the 876-unit Seaside Sonata residential project in Sham Shui Po, its first sale in 2019 and a third of the 2,400 apartments on its contract book. Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) will launch the third phase of its 1,172-unit Cullinan West on top of the Nam Cheong subway station in the same neighbourhood.
The upcoming sale by the two bellwether companies – with US$76 billion in combined market value, or a third of Hong Kong’s 16 listed property developers – comes at a critical juncture as the city’s real estate bull market had been hobbled by two months of unprecedented
public unrest and a protracted US-China trade war. For CK Asset, the sales launch after a six-month hiatus is also the chance for it to regain the industry crown from SHKP.
“The pricing of the two developers will serve as an important indicator for the market and send an important signal on how the the escalating protests have impacted home prices,” said Alvin Cheung, an associate director at Prudential Brokerage.
Average home price may fall by as much as 10 per cent in the next six to 12 months, according to a forecast by CGS-CIMB Securities’ head of Hong Kong and China property research Raymond Cheng.
“The impact of ongoing weekend protests now spreading into different districts as well as worsening retail sales and fewer tourists arrivals will take a toll in Hong Kong home prices,” he said.
Last week, the biggest plot of residential land at the former Kai Tak airport sold for HK$12.74 billion, lower than the market expectation of between HK$13 billion and HK$16.1 billion, as seven consecutive weeks of increasingly violent street protests drove many developers to the sidelines and sapped their appetite for long-term investments.
CK Asset won an Urban Renewal Authority tender in 2014 for the Sham Shui Po site at an estimated HK$4,000 per square foot. Seaside Sonata will generate a 20 per cent profit for the developer if the units sell for HK$15,000 per square foot on average, or about 10 per cent cheaper than other new property projects in the neighbourhood, said Vincent Cheung, managing director of Vincorn Consulting and Appraisal.
The lower pricing gives CK Asset the chance to regain its market share, particularly at a time when competitors are considering deferments in their sales launches, he said.
“CK Asset used to launch a project at lower prices to draw market attention,” Cheung said.
Currently, a 1,630-square foot unit at the second phase of Cullinan West changed hands for HK$39.7 million, or HK$24,364 per sq ft, according to Centaline Property Agency.
SHKP was Hong Kong’s biggest property seller last year, with HK$49.69 billion (US$6.4 billion) in sales revenue, or 22.7 per cent of the city’s market share, according to data provider Dataelements. Wheelock Properties was second with HK$14.74 billion in sales, or 12.2 per cent market share.
CK Asset’s market share shrank to just 6 per cent, as the group looked abroad for its business growth. It invested more than HK$64 billion in aircraft leasing, infrastructure and utility assets in Europe, Australia, Canada and the UK, while steadily selling down assets in Hong Kong. Under the leadership of Victor Li Tzar-kuoi after the retirement last year of the elder Li, CK Asset is gradually returning its investments to Hong Kong.
“The project will be put on the market as early as next month once it obtains the government permit” from the Lands Department, said CK Asset’s assistant chief manager of sales Cannas Ho.
Besides Seaside Sonata, CK Asset will launch its luxury residential project at Borrett Road at the Mid-Levels soon, comprising 181 units. The eighth phase of its Lohas Park development will be put on the market in the last quarter this year.
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