Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hong Kong Property Prices

Anyone who wants to understand why property prices in Hong Kong are sky high and that the bubble is not necessarily about to burst should understand at least the following 3 factors:

1) New land is solely supplied by the government which likes to keep prices high by not releasing any meaningful amount of land for some years.

There is a long story behind that, but a hint: 5 property developers, all controlled by individuals who are now among the world's richest, are also sitting on enough land to meet the needs of new housing needs for the entire economy for at least 6-7 years. They are the de facto tax collectors for the government for which the latter ignores any possible anti-trust collusion practices. High government officials routinely get lucrative compensation packages after retirement working for the same developers they used to regulate, in theory.

2) Any mainland Chinese with HK$8 million (slightly more than 1 US$ million buying a property gets permanent residence. After 7 years the property owner is entitled to a Hong Kong passport. Unlike that of the PRC, a HK passport holder can travel to nearly all countries on this planet without a visa.

3) The latest NY Times report here scratches the surface of sources of funds for most of the mainland buyers of properties in Hong Kong.
Note the amount in the report referred to the first 11 months of 2009 only. "nuf said.

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