Hong Kong's third-quarter housing supply shrinks, foiling policymakers' attempt to improve affordability for first-time buyers

By Lam Ka-sing kasing.lam@scmp.com / https://www.scmp.com/property/hong-kong-china/article/3034518/hong-kongs-private-housing-supply-drops-third-quarter?utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=contentexchange&utm_source=EdgeProp | October 29, 2019 12:24 PM SGT
Hong Kong's property developers completed building homes at a slower pace during the third quarter, exacerbating the housing shortage that had made the city the world's most expensive urban centre to live in.
The number of finished private residential units fell 31.3 per cent from a year ago to 4,400 units in the three months ended September, fewer than the 4,800 units built during the preceding quarter, according to data by the Transport and Housing Bureau.
That puts the city's 2019 housing stock on track to reach a four-year low of 13,467 units, 34 per cent short of the government's target, according to a projection based on current building pace. Last year, 21,000 new homes were added to the city's supply, the highest annual rate since 2004. In the first nine months of this year, 10,100 homes were completed.
"The completion rate of private housing is unlikely to reach the annual target," said Anita Cheung, senior manager at the data and research centre of Midland Realty. "In the first three quarters, the total number of homes built was about half of the government's projected annual completion."
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor meets the press at the Central Government Offices in Tamar, after the 2019 policy address speech. Photo: May Tse alt=Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor meets the press at the Central Government Offices in Tamar, after the 2019 policy address speech. Photo: May Tse
Housing affordability is one of the biggest challenges for Hong Kong's policymakers, as they try to unravel the economic and sociopolitical issues that have led to the outburst of public grievances that undergird the city's worst political crisis. The shortage of housing " with as many as 25 potential buyers bidding for each available flat during property launches " has caused prices to spiral upwards beyond the reach of many average first-time buyers.
"If the supply of private housing land cannot be replenished on time, the effect of the government's policy to strengthen the supply of public housing will become obvious after three years," said Ricacorp Properties' research head Derek Chan. "There could be...