Hong Kong homebuyers' tours of Greater Bay Area property projects expected to decline amid Wuhan coronavirus outbreak

By Lam Ka-sing kasing.lam@scmp.com / https://www.scmp.com/property/hong-kong-china/article/3047930/hong-kong-homebuyers-tours-greater-bay-area-property?utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=contentexchange&utm_source=EdgeProp | February 4, 2020 2:54 PM SGT
Regular tours of cities covered by Beijing's Greater Bay Area development plan by Hong Kong homebuyers will be delayed by the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus, reducing transaction volumes in this area by up to 15 per cent year on year, analysts said.
Because of the epidemic, based on safety reasons, Hong Kong-based agent Midland Realty said it will postpone property tours until further notice.
"We had tours every Saturday and Sunday, every month," said Ted Lam, managing director of Midland China's Greater Bay Area division. "In this situation, how can we organise them? We cannot." Lam declined to reveal the possible losses incurred because of the delay.
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"There will be an impact on transaction volume in the short-run. Compared with 2019, January and February, we might see a drop of 10 per cent to 15 per cent. There might be some cooling," said Yan Yuejin, research director at E-house China Research and Development Institute.
But Yan added that the epidemic coincided with a low season for the industry, with property projects not being launched frequently at the moment.
Jeff Poon, senior sales director at agency Qfang, which helps organise such tours, said he had received no requests for tours to the Greater Bay Area recently.
"We have indeed received fewer requests recently because of Lunar New Year and the epidemic," Poon said. "In the last two weeks, we have had no clients going to the mainland to visit projects." The agency normally organises tours once or twice a month. with 10 to 30 people.
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The Greater Bay Area refers to Beijing's plan to link the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau with the Guangdong province cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Dongguan, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing, into an integrated economic and business hub.
Chinese authorities have put numerous cities, including Wuhan, capital of Hubei province as well as the epicentre of the outbreak, under quarantine because of the coronavirus. So far, more than 4,600 people have contracted the virus, and more than 105 patients have died.
Centaline Property Agency said it too will postpone weekend tours that would have otherwise resumed in early February. "Crossing the border might be more troublesome. The epidemic might also slow down [market activity] in the Greater Bay Area," said Raymond Chung, Greater Bay Area project planning and sales director at Centaline.
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Century 21, another agency, however, said a group of Hongkongers will tour Greater Bay Area cities, such as Zhuhai and Zhongshan, every weekend. They will visit two to three projects, usually those from well-known developers, such as Agile Group, a day.
Sunny Yu, director of Greater Bay Area projects and development at Century 21, said it would "pay extra attention on the hygiene of food served in restaurants, cleanliness of coaches, and hand out masks when visiting property projects".
Yu added that the viral outbreak might affect sentiment and that "about 10 per cent of people might be worried about hygiene conditions in mainland China".
This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2020 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
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