Wheelock sees dismal sales of new flats at Lohas Park after weekend of protest carnage in Hong Kong

By Holly Chik holly.chik@scmp.com / https://www.scmp.com/property/hong-kong-china/article/3031875/wheelock-sees-dismal-sales-new-flats-lohas-park-after?utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=contentexchange&utm_source=EdgeProp | October 8, 2019 5:24 AM SGT
A batch of new flats at a project in Tseung Kwan O failed to hit the mark with buyers on Monday as increasingly volatile anti-government protests continued to rattle sentiment in the world's most expensive housing market.
Wheelock Properties managed to sell only 20 out of 101 units in the latest batch at its Grand Marini project in Lohas Park that went on sale today. They were mainly one- and two-bedroom units which sold between HK$7 million and HK$8 million, according to Sammy Po, the chief executive of Midland Realty's residential division.
"It's lower than expected," said Po. "Buyers remain watchful and observe how the social [unrest] is developing in recent days."
The demonstrations in Hong Kong, initially against a now-abandoned extradition bill but now calling for broader democratic reform, have come on top of the protracted US-China trade war which had already drained appetite for property in Hong Kong.
This was also the first property sales event after the new law banning protesters from wearing face masks was introduced on Friday, a move that dragged the benchmark Hang Seng Index to a one-month low at the end of last week. The weekend saw some of the worst violence so far, as the protesters reacted angrily to the new legislation.
Even so, the developer went ahead with its scheduled sales plan on Chung Yeung Festival, a public holiday, when most MTR stations were closed after being repeatedly targeted for vandalism by hard-core protesters.
"Buyers and property agents can't even go out to the sale or to work," said Vincent Cheung, managing director of Vincorn Consulting and Appraisal.
"The market sentiment has definitely been hit by the violent clashes. But I can only tell how much confidence has been lost after the public transport service is back to normal.
"Investors, including occupiers, care if the city is safe. After some more time, say two weeks, we will see if the anti-mask law stops people from protesting. Buyers will be concerned if the new rule is not effective and wonder what else the government can do."