Hong Kong’s Top Developer Sells Homes Cheap as Protests Persist

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(Sept 11): Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd., Hong Kong’s biggest developer, is offering new homes at a discount to entice buyers amid the worsening political crisis.

The first batch of units in the Kowloon development Cullinan West III are priced at HK$21,722 ($2,770) per square foot, or 20% lower than current market levels in the area. The pricing is described by the developer as “traveling back in time” -- it’s close to the price set two years ago for the first phase of the same development even though home values have risen 8% in the period.

“Recent social events and the U.S.-China trade war have heightened some buyers’ wait-and-see attitude,” Victor Lui, deputy managing director at the company, said. Housing demand remains strong, as reflected by the good reception for other new projects, Lui said.

Months-long anti-government protests have put more property buyers on the sidelines and sales have been hit across the board. The transaction value for new luxury homes slumped 31% in July to an eight-month low, data from Centaline Property Agency Ltd. show. Monthly rents for ultra-luxury residences have fallen by around the same amount, the South China Morning Post reported Tuesday, citing Landscope Christie’s International Real Estate.

What began as protests against now-withdrawn legislation that would have allowed extraditions to mainland China have grown into demonstrations for wider democracy. With Chief Executive Carrie Lam refusing to satisfy protesters’ demands other than officially killing the controversial bill, the unrest looks set to linger. People in recent weeks have resorted to more extreme tactics, including hurling Molotov cocktails and setting roadblocks on fire. Police have also stepped up their use of force. - Bloomberg