How to burn US$4.6m in 10 days in Hong Kong housing market

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HONG KONG (Jan 11): A mystery buyer has forfeited a HK$36 million (US$4.6 million) deposit after walking away from plans to buy a home in Hong Kong’s most prestigious neighborhood.

The sale fell through just 10 days after the unidentified person agreed to buy the three-bedroom house with swimming pool and private garden in Mount Nicholson on the Peak for HK$722 million, according to a government document.

A house in the same development last year sold for almost HK$1.4 billion, making it Asia’s most-expensive property on a per-square-foot basis.

Since then, an almost 15-year bull run that made Hong Kong infamous for having the world’s least affordable property market has petered out. Fallout from the US-China trade war, rising borrowing costs and a volatile stock market have weighed on home prices, which are down about 8% from their August peak.

The slump may worsen, with Capital Economics forecasting home prices will fall about 30% over the next five years, including a 15% slump in 2019, according to a note published Thursday.