Young buyers flock to Wing Tai Properties' low-priced OMA by the Sea flats, Hong Kong's first property sale after social distancing is eased

By Sandy Li / SCMP | May 19, 2020 5:00 PM SGT
The OMA by the Sea site in Tuen Mun. Photo: May Tse
The OMA by the Sea site in Tuen Mun. Photo: May Tse
Young buyers thronged the sales office of Wing Tai Properties's OMA by the Sea development on Sunday morning, before sales slowed as some of the cheaper flats priced at more than HK$4 million (US$516,000) were sold out.
The developer had sold 210 of the 268 units " or about 78 per cent " on offer at the residential development in Hong Kong's Tuen Mun district by 10pm. The project is the first to be launched after the government relaxed social distancing rules. Groups of six people at a time were allowed to select flats. Half of the buyers were aged 26 to 35.
"As the entry price is low, about 70 per cent of our registered buyers were young," said Sammy Po, chief executive of sales agent Midland Realty's residential department, who described them as between 30 and 40 years old. "Studio flats costing HK$4 million sold out fast, early in the day. But sales for one and two-bedroom flats going for HK$5 million to HK$6 million were slower," he said.
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About 90 per cent of the units, ranging in size from 333 sq ft to 472 sq ft, were priced at below HK$6 million after discounts of up to 13.5 per cent. The cheapest flat on offer was priced at HK$3.88 million. The average discounted price of the units was HK$12,548 per square foot, about 10 per cent below units going for sale in nearby areas.
The sale came as Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po wrote in his blog on Sunday that Hong Kong's negative economic growth and unemployment rate could worsen. He added that a "resurgence of violence' could be the greatest obstacle to the recovery of the city's coronavirus-ravaged economy.
The city's unemployment rate rose to a near 10-year high of 4.2 per cent in March, as most companies either asked staff to take unpaid leave, or laid them off to save costs.
Ning, a buyer in his early 30s who only gave his surname, and his wife bought a studio for HK$4.26 million on Sunday. "We have been looking around for a new flat and found this project's price and neighbourhood are fine. We are not worried about home prices falling, as our jobs provide stable incomes," he said.
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Hong Kong's economy contracted 8.9 per cent year on year in the first three months of 2020 for its worst quarter on record. Home prices too retreated, by 7.6 per cent on average from a peak in June 2019, according to the Centa-City Leading Index. Property firm JLL has, in fact, forecast a decline of 20 per cent this year.
"I have been waiting for a property correction for two years," said a buyer who only gave her surname as Cheung. Prices had not fallen that much, despite the pandemic, she said.
She bought a studio for HK$4 million for her own use. "In Hong Kong, buying property is an alternative to protect savings from devaluation, as putting money in banks gets us no interest at all," she said, adding that she had made HK$1 million from selling a unit in Hong Kong's Ma On Shan district in 2018.
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Agents said they expected the response to OMA by the Sea would be fine, when compared with property sales over the past four weekends. On Saturday, Wheelock Properties said it had sold only 10 flats, or 10 per cent, out of the 101 units on offer at its Grand Marini project in Lohas Park. The units, ranging in size from 478 sq ft to 807 sq ft, were going for HK$8.44 million to HK$13.8 million each.
More than 1,000 potential buyers have signed up for the development, meaning more than three people are competing for the 268 units on sale on Sunday. OMA by the Sea, which comprises 517 units in total, is expected to be completed in June, 2022.
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