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Despite politics and coronavirus, Hong Kong’s enduring love affair with real estate

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By Clare Jim

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong is showing that its affinity for real estate has been unaffected by a year of anti-government protests and concerns over the coronavirus, with a large housing project launched this month registering the highest response in over two decades.

When the Pavilia Farm development in the New Territories district opened for subscription, eager buyers stocked up on food and water as they prepared for a long wait at the end of a snaking queue where signs read: “Expected waiting time: 8 hours.”

The project, attractively priced and close to the busy Kowloon district, received close to 23,000 subscriptions for its first 391 units. When completed in late 2022 it will have 3,000 apartments.

All 391 units were sold, the developer said on Sunday night, adding more units would be launched soon.

Realtors said the take-up at Pavilia was the strongest in more than 20 years in one of the world’s most expensive property markets and matched the frenzy seen at the time of the 1997 handover of the former British colony to China.

But it comes after social upheaval in the past year over China’s plans to introduce a national security law in Hong Kong, which has led many investors to question the future of the global financial hub.

However, Hong Kong’s home prices dropped just 4% since a peak in May last year before the outbreak of protests and the spread of the coronavirus, supported by strong demand, a severe land shortage and low interest rates. This followed a six-fold rise in the index of private home prices since 2003.

“The property market has accumulated over a year of demand since the social movement last June; the monthly transaction volume has been lower than usual,” said Richard Lee, CEO of realtor Hong Kong Property Services.

“People’s confidence has come back after seeing (residential) prices have stayed resilient even during the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Property consultancy Knight Frank’s executive director Thomas Lam said, however, the real estate market will continue to be under pressure in an economy under recession and with high unemployment. He said he expected home prices will fall around 5% this year before getting stable next year.

“Now the property market is very ‘deformed’; home prices remain high but…commercial and shop rents and prices are falling non-stop,” Lam said.

LOCATION, PRICING

Pavilia Farm is being built by New World Development 0017.HK> and MTR Corp. 0066.HK> above the Tai Wai railway station, on the train line into Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, and will have a large shopping mall in its lower floors.

On one of the early days of the launch, organisers stopped people queuing from 11.30 am local time (0330 GMT) as lines extended from a show flat to a footbridge outside despite social distancing concerns.

Buyers said they were unconcerned about the exodus of residents following the protests last year as well as the possibility of a crash in prices.

Grace Wong, a 40-year-old fitness trainer, said she wanted to buy a one-bedroom home for investment, although if prices dropped she said she would live in it herself.

Wong said she’s staying in Hong Kong because she’s single and doesn’t have to worry about the future of any children.

“(Otherwise) I’d choose to migrate elsewhere and not buy a property here,” she said. “I’m not young any more; if I don’t buy a property now it’ll be more difficult to secure a mortgage in the future.”

Property agents said Pavilia Farm’s pricing was around 10% lower than nearby developments, making it attractive to buyers who have been waiting for opportunities.

“The overwhelming response for this project demonstrates a rebound in the Hong Kong property sector and confidence from home buyers who are in search of high quality properties as the new normal settles in,” Edward Lau, deputy chief financial officer of New World, told Reuters.

Candy Lau, 26, who works in the consumer industry, said she was also confident about Hong Kong’s property market. She said she expects it to remain stable or rise slightly in the near future and had signed up to buy a one-bedroom apartment in Pavilia and rent it out.

“Property is still a better way of capital conservation. There’s limited investment channels right now; equity is volatile,” Lau said.

(Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Source:- The Guardian

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Despite politics and coronavirus, Hong Kong's enduring love affair with real estate – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Clare Jim

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong is showing that its affinity for real estate has been unaffected by a year of anti-government protests and concerns over the coronavirus, with a large housing project launched this month registering the highest response in over two decades.

When the Pavilia Farm development in the New Territories district opened for subscription, eager buyers stocked up on food and water as they prepared for a long wait at the end of a snaking queue where signs read: “Expected waiting time: 8 hours.”

The project, attractively priced and close to the busy Kowloon district, received close to 23,000 subscriptions for its first 391 units. When completed in late 2022 it will have 3,000 apartments.

All 391 units were sold, the developer said on Sunday night, adding more units would be launched soon.

Realtors said the take-up at Pavilia was the strongest in more than 20 years in one of the world’s most expensive property markets and matched the frenzy seen at the time of the 1997 handover of the former British colony to China.

But it comes after social upheaval in the past year over China’s plans to introduce a national security law in Hong Kong, which has led many investors to question the future of the global financial hub.

However, Hong Kong’s home prices dropped just 4% since a peak in May last year before the outbreak of protests and the spread of the coronavirus, supported by strong demand, a severe land shortage and low interest rates. This followed a six-fold rise in the index of private home prices since 2003.

“The property market has accumulated over a year of demand since the social movement last June; the monthly transaction volume has been lower than usual,” said Richard Lee, CEO of realtor Hong Kong Property Services.

“People’s confidence has come back after seeing (residential) prices have stayed resilient even during the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Property consultancy Knight Frank’s executive director Thomas Lam said, however, the real estate market will continue to be under pressure in an economy under recession and with high unemployment. He said he expected home prices will fall around 5% this year before getting stable next year.

“Now the property market is very ‘deformed’; home prices remain high but…commercial and shop rents and prices are falling non-stop,” Lam said.

LOCATION, PRICING

Pavilia Farm is being built by New World Development and MTR Corp. above the Tai Wai railway station, on the train line into Kowloon and Hong Kong Island, and will have a large shopping mall in its lower floors.

On one of the early days of the launch, organisers stopped people queuing from 11.30 am local time (0330 GMT) as lines extended from a show flat to a footbridge outside despite social distancing concerns.

Buyers said they were unconcerned about the exodus of residents following the protests last year as well as the possibility of a crash in prices.

Grace Wong, a 40-year-old fitness trainer, said she wanted to buy a one-bedroom home for investment, although if prices dropped she said she would live in it herself.

Wong said she’s staying in Hong Kong because she’s single and doesn’t have to worry about the future of any children.

“(Otherwise) I’d choose to migrate elsewhere and not buy a property here,” she said. “I’m not young any more; if I don’t buy a property now it’ll be more difficult to secure a mortgage in the future.”

Property agents said Pavilia Farm’s pricing was around 10% lower than nearby developments, making it attractive to buyers who have been waiting for opportunities.

“The overwhelming response for this project demonstrates a rebound in the Hong Kong property sector and confidence from home buyers who are in search of high quality properties as the new normal settles in,” Edward Lau, deputy chief financial officer of New World, told Reuters.

Candy Lau, 26, who works in the consumer industry, said she was also confident about Hong Kong’s property market. She said she expects it to remain stable or rise slightly in the near future and had signed up to buy a one-bedroom apartment in Pavilia and rent it out.

“Property is still a better way of capital conservation. There’s limited investment channels right now; equity is volatile,” Lau said.

(Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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Cape Breton students learn politics through Student Vote during municipal elections – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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COXHEATH, N.S. —

Fifteen-year-old Ella MacArthur wasn’t sure who would win her vote for district councillor on Friday before Nova Scotia’s municipal elections. 

 But she knew exactly which name she’d put her ‘X” besides for mayor. 

“Amanda McDougall … Because she is a distant relative of ours,” said the Grade 9 student at Riverview High School during a phone interview on Friday. 

“She also sounds like she’s going to do a very good job. She sounds very professional.” 

Along with 15 other schools in Cape Breton, Riverview took part in Student Vote during the municipal elections and held voting at the school. School Vote is an initiative by a non-profit called CIVIX created to teach youth about democratic institutions and their rights and responsibilities as citizens. 

Across Nova Scotia, 145 schools took part in Student Vote for the municipal elections and learned about the candidates’ platforms during the campaign.


STUDENT VOTE 2020
In Cape Breton, students voted in mock municipal elections on Thursday and Friday and here were their choices for CBRM council:

  • Mayor – Amanda McDougall 
  • District 1 – Andrew Doyle 
  • District 2 – Jim Dunphy 
  • District 3 – Cyril MacDonald 
  • District 4 – Steve Gillespie 
  • District 5 – Christina Joe 
  • District 6 – Glenn Paruch 
  • District 7 – Ivan Doncaster 
  • District 8 – James Edwards 
  • District 9 – Kenny Tracey  
  • District 10 – Matthew Boyd  
  • District 11 – Darren O’Quinn 
  • District 12 – Kim Sheppard 

Participating schools had voting stations for students to cast their votes for candidates in their district as well as for mayor. During the campaign, students learned about the voting process as well as the candidates. 

“(I understand about the voting process) definitely more this year. In previous years, we didn’t really talk about it in classes. This year, we focused on it more,” said 14-year-old Cohan Harries who has participated in other mock elections. 

“It’s definitely a lot better that we get to participate now so we understand it a lot more when we have to (officially vote),” added MacArthur. 

Over the past seven years, Riverview has participated in Student Vote and teacher Peter Murphy said they’ve done the program for all levels of government. 

This year, due to COVID-19 health safety measures, mayoral candidates couldn’t visit the schools but Murphy said engagement is still there. 

“We need to train students to understand how you vote, what it is to select your candidate, what it is to become a questioning citizen who wants to know more,” said Murphy, who said the Student Vote initiative is in line with what students learn in their citizenship nine class.

“The goal of that course is to … help students understand that nothing just happens. It’s citizens, it’s people, it’s everyday average Joes and Janes that make things happen in our community. So we have to become engaged if we want the community to change in positive ways.”

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