南華早報@Estate agents pull ads in protest at cooling measures(07-09-2013)
An alliance of property agents will withdraw their newspaper advertisements on Monday to protest against the government’s market-cooling measures.
The alliance, led by Hong Kong Real Estate Agencies General Association chairwoman Chu Kin-lan, Centaline founder Shih Wing-ching and Midland Realty managing director Pierre Wong Tsz-wa, claims to represent more than 90 per cent of the city’s property agents.
All of the big agents will withdraw their ads to express their discontent, Wong said yesterday. “Transactions have dropped by two-thirds, so we don’t need to place that many ads anyway,” Wong said. He did not know how many ads would be withdrawn, but he expected the action to hit the Sing Tao Daily, Hong Kong Economic Times and Hong Kong Economic Journal the hardest, given that they carried more ads.
Before the government introduced cooling measures, 11,000 to 12,000 residential properties changed hands every month, Wong said. Now there are only about 3,000 transactions a month, making it hard for the city’s 30,000 agents to survive.
The alliance aimed to collect 200,000 signatures calling for a policy reversal. About 100,000 had been collected so far, he said.
Double stamp duty is levied on all buyers of residential and non-residential properties, except for Hong Kong permanent residents who are first-time buyers. That measure – with a 15 per cent stamp duty for foreign and corporate buyers of flats, and a special stamp duty on resales of flats within 36 months – has already taken effect. But lawmakers can still veto or introduce amendments to bills on the measures, which have yet to be passed by the Legislative Council.
The alliance has said one in three agents could close if the measures stay, putting 10,000 people out of work. But Secretary for Transport and Housing Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said the measures were needed to stabilise the market.