Hong Kong's wealthy enclaves are burnishing their safe-haven status as home prices tumble in protest flashpoints

By Cheryl Arcibal cheryl.arcibal@scmp.com / https://www.scmp.com/business/article/3034342/hong-kongs-wealthy-enclaves-are-burnishing-their-safe-haven-status-home?utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=contentexchange&utm_source=EdgeProp | November 5, 2019 11:01 AM SGT
Hong Kong's wealthy residential enclaves, where some of the world's most expensive homes are located, have also become safe havens in a tumbling property market as the city heads for a recession amid the worst political crisis in its history.
Average home prices in the neighbourhood inhabited by multibillionaires and tycoons have held steady, in some cases bucking the declining trend, compared with the working-class districts that had been the epicentres of the city's five-month long anti-government protests, according to the data provided by real property agents and analysts.
Average prices at the Mid-Levels - an upscale neighbourhood near Central which counts Canto-pop queen Sammi Cheng and actress Shu Qi among its prominent residents - rose 0.1 per cent to HK$31,069 (US$3,970) per square foot in August, as the city's protest rallies descended into violence.
At The Peak, the prestigious address at the highest point on Hong Kong Island, whose inhabitants include Macau casino heiress Pansy Ho, prices have held steady at HK$43,210 per sq ft, putting the typical mansion north of HK$150 million. In Happy Valley, where Hong Kong's racecourse is located, prices actually rose 1 per cent in September from a year ago.
Home prices have been little changed among the exclusive addresses because these areas had been spared from the worst of the protesters' wrath, said Maggie Hu, assistant professor of real estate and finance at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
"Their main demand is for democratic reform, not really a revolt against the wealthy per se," said Hu, adding that the exclusive districts are usually inaccessible to most protesters because they are not served by the subway network. "Hence we do not observe protests targeting affluent individuals or taking place in affluent neighbourhoods."
The calm in the wealthy enclaves contrasts with the storm that is buffeting Hong Kong's economy, and the broader property market.
What began on June 9 as an uneventful march by an estimated 1 million residents against a controversial extradition bill has turned into almost daily clashes between police and radical protesters. Even though the city's Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor...