Purveyors of Hong Kong real estate have been sitting tight. Home sales in the territory fell 70 percent in February over the previous year, a record plunge amid uncertainties over China's economic slowdown and questions about coming government decisions on monetary policy.
In February, 1,807 Hong Kong homes were sold, compared to more than 6,000 the previous February and 2,045 in January, government statistics reported by Bloomberg show. Property prices have fallen 10 percent from their peak in September, when they were up 370 percent from a 2003 low due to low mortgage rates, a low supply and a surge in interest from mainland Chinese purchasers.
For Thomas Fok, an agent at Centaline Property Agency in Hong Kong, that has meant making not a single sale so far this year, Bloomberg reported. Buyers are shying away in part because of the expectation that if they wait, they'll be able to purchase property for even less.
— Hong Kong Stream (@hkstream) February 19, 2016
As a result, developers have been forced to lower their expectations for the coming year. New World Development Co., for instance, said it had reached just 28 percent of its sales target in the first half of its fiscal year.
The slump hasn't been bad for everyone, however. Prices of high-end properties, which are in greater demand, appear not to have fallen as significantly as those in the mass market and in less desirable areas, where some prices have dropped by as much as 20 percent.
Homebuyers, businesses and other investors are sitting on their hands to see whether the Chinese government will change interest rates. Some Asian businesses have begun shifting to buying property in southern Europe, in part because of these uncertainties stemming from Chinese authorities.
“There are too many imponderables when the authorities start to intervene in the market,” Roger Bacon, head of managed investments for Asia at Citi Private Bank who is based in Hong Kong, told the Financial Times.