英文虎報@Effective cooling policies belie home market turmoil(04-07-2013)
Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung warned the local home market is volatile despite signs of cooling as two top property agencies feared losses.
"The property bubble risk cannot be ignored and the local housing supply will remain tight in the short term," Cheung told the Legislative Council yesterday.
Home buying by non-locals and companies in the first five months of the year has dropped significantly to a monthly average of 249 deals since the buyer's stamp duty was levied last October, Cheung said.
This is compared to the average of 1,089 homes bought every month during January-October, before the 15 percent levy.
The government imposed a series of cooling measures, including the BSD, a doubling of stamp duty for those who bought a second home in February and a special stamp duty to crack down on short-term speculation.
Total home transactions last month fell 12.7 percent from May to 4,616 deals worth HK$18.7 billion, down 22 percent from the previous month.
Meanwhile, Midland Holdings (1200) and its commercial property arm Midland IC&I (0459) issued profit warnings yesterday. Both firms said they are likely to have recorded losses in the first half due to government curbs and the new law for first-hand flat sales imposed from April 29.
Centaline Property Agency founder Shih Wing-ching has warned Centaline recorded losses for May and June.
Meanwhile, property agents are planning a huge protest march from Victoria Park to the Central Government Offices on Sunday.
Organizers expect as many as 30,000 people, comprising agents and their families, to take part.
They will urge the government to remove the Double Stamp Duty and relax other levies.
Midland managing director Pierre Wong Tsz-wa expects around 20,000 out of the total 30,000 agents in the SAR to lose their jobs as the current situation in the property market is similar to what prevailed during the 2003 SARS epidemic.