Sat, Aug 25, 2012 - Page 15 News List

Luxury Hong Kong apartment sold for a record US$61m

AFP, HONG KONG and BEIJING

A luxury apartment in Hong Kong has sold for a record HK$470 million (US$61 million), making it the priciest condominium in the Chinese territory and possibly in Asia, reports said yesterday.

An unidentified buyer paid HK$75,806 per square foot for the 6,200ft2 (576m2) unit at Opus Hong Kong in the upmarket Peak residential area, Hong Kong Economic Journal and Sing Tao Daily said.

The whopping price for the unit, which takes up the entire eighth floor of the 12-story building, is believed to be Asia’s most expensive apartment and the world’s second-most costly after London’s One Hyde Park, Sing Tao Daily said.

The building was designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry.

Developer Swire Properties declined to confirm the deal.

“We have no information to share at this point,” spokeswoman May Lam-Kobayashi said, but added that tenants recently leased another unit at the property for HK$850,000 a month.

Local media reported that the sale beat the territory’s previous record price of HK$360 million paid for a unit at another luxury property last year.

“This is definitely a new record price for any Hong Kong apartment,” Centaline research head Wong Leung-sing (黃良昇) said.

“But we think it’s an isolated case as this is an ultra luxury condo,” Wong said.

Property prices in Hong Kong have surged over the past few years because of record-low interest rates and a flood of wealthy buyers from China.

However, the property market has seen a slowdown this year, with sentiment hit by the eurozone crisis and plans to boost public housing.

Even so, many residents complain they can no longer afford decent accommodation in the territory of 7 million people, and analysts say property ownership is out of reach even for the upper middle class.

In related news, China is studying new measures to beef up controls on the property sector, state media said, amid signs of rebounding housing prices.

The housing ministry is “closely monitoring” changes in the property market and “is studying with relevant departments further policies to strengthen market control,” Xinhua news agency said on Thursday, citing an unnamed official.

New home prices in 50 out of the 70 Chinese cities tracked by the government increased last month from June, latest official data showed. That represented a doubling from 25 in June.

The price rebound came despite government tightening policies for more than two years that have included prohibitions on buying second homes, an increase in minimum downpayments and the introduction of property taxes in certain areas.

However, a recent review of 16 provinces and cities by official inspectors found some local authorities had loosened controls or even granted purchasing subsidies to stimulate home-buying amid China’s economic slowdown, Xinhua said.

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