Build-to-rent apartments and rooftop gardens: how the City of Sydney is facing the future
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Build-to-rent apartments and rooftop gardens: how the City of Sydney is facing the future

The proposed changes are designed to address housing affordability in Sydney and increase the vibrancy of the city

By KANEBRIDGE NEWS
Wed, Dec 13, 2023 11:33amGrey Clock 2 min

Developers could be given between 20 percent and 75 percent more floor space under plans by City of Sydney Council to encourage build-to-rent residences.

The allowance will be available to applications made within the five-year time frame from when changes to planning and development rules are approved.

City of Sydney has announced its endorsement of changes to the rules to make building family friendly and build-to-rent apartments easier. Lord mayor of Sydney Clover Moore said the proposed changes to the planning controls balanced the need for more housing with sustainability concerns and the desire to maintain the character of the city.

“Exciting changes include new incentives for build-to-rent housing in the CBD, embedded Net Zero building controls, the promotion of increased tree canopy and green roofs and a streamlined processes for design excellence and major development applications,” she said.  

“We are also supporting housing diversity and addressing the loss of smaller and more affordable dwellings as a result of redevelopment.”

The concept of ‘built to rent’ properties has gained traction in recent months as a way of addressing the housing affordability crisis in major centres. The concept is one where developers and their financiers build multi-residential dwellings but, rather than selling them, retain ownership of all properties and rent them out.

Built-to-rent properties are more commonly seen in Europe and the UK, where they have been used to supply housing to those struggling with housing affordability.

Ms Moore said moving to this model would ensure higher occupational rates in inner city residences.

“That is great for inner-city vibrancy and avoids situations where international investors leave newly built flats empty for capital gain,” she said. 

The Federal Government announced incentives to encourage built-to-rent development in its budget earlier this year.

The proposed changes would also encourage developers to install green roofs through height incentives, as well as allowing developers 20 percent more floor space for co-living accommodation for students and low income workers.

“We know that students are one of the groups that have been hit hardest by the rental crisis in Sydney, with lack of appropriate accommodation and affordability both major issues,” Ms Moore said.  

“By offering these additional floor space incentives we hope landowners and developers will create more co-living accommodation in areas like Haymarket, which has proved popular with students in Sydney.”

Draft changes will be presented to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment.



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Hong Kong Takes Drastic Action to Avert Property Slump

The city’s real-estate market has been hurt by high interest rates and mainland China’s economic slowdown

By ELAINE YU
Fri, Mar 1, 2024 3 min

Hong Kong has taken a bold step to ease a real-estate slump, scrapping a series of property taxes in an effort to turn around a market that is often seen as a proxy for the city’s beleaguered economy.

The government has removed longstanding property taxes that were imposed on nonpermanent residents, those buying a second home, or people reselling a property within two years after buying, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in his annual budget speech on Wednesday.

The move is an attempt to revive a property market that is still one of the most expensive in the world, but that has been badly shaken by social unrest, the fallout of the government’s strict approach to containing Covid-19 and the slowdown of China’s economy . Hong Kong’s high interest rates, which track U.S. rates due to its currency peg,  have increased the pressure .

The decision to ease the tax burden could encourage more buying from people in mainland China, who have been a driving force in Hong Kong’s property market for years. Chinese tycoons, squeezed by problems at home, have  in some cases become forced sellers  of Hong Kong real estate—dealing major damage to the luxury segment.

Hong Kong’s super luxury homes  have lost more than a quarter of their value  since the middle of 2022.

The additional taxes were introduced in a series of announcements starting in 2010, when the government was focused on cooling down soaring home prices that had made Hong Kong one of the world’s least affordable property markets. They are all in the form of stamp duty, a tax imposed on property sales.

“The relevant measures are no longer necessary amidst the current economic and market conditions,” Chan said.

The tax cuts will lead to more buying and support prices in the coming months, said Eddie Kwok, senior director of valuation and advisory services at CBRE Hong Kong, a property consultant. But in the longer term, the market will remain sensitive to the level of interest rates and developers may still need to lower their prices to attract demand thanks to a stockpile of new homes, he said.

Hong Kong’s authorities had already relaxed rules last year to help revive the market, allowing home buyers to pay less upfront when buying certain properties, and cutting by half the taxes for those buying a second property and for home purchases by foreigners. By the end of 2023, the price index for private homes reached a seven-year low, according to Hong Kong’s Rating and Valuation Department.

The city’s monetary authority relaxed mortgage rules further on Wednesday, allowing potential buyers to borrow more for homes valued at around $4 million.

The shares of Hong Kong’s property developers jumped after the announcement, defying a selloff in the wider market. New World Development , Sun Hung Kai Properties and Henderson Land Development were higher in afternoon trading, clawing back some of their losses from a slide in their stock prices this year.

The city’s budget deficit will widen to about $13 billion in the coming fiscal year, which starts on April 1. That is larger than expected, Chan said. Revenues from land sales and leases, an important source of government income, will fall to about $2.5 billion, about $8.4 billion lower than the original estimate and far lower than the previous year, according to Chan.

The sweeping property measures are part of broader plans by Hong Kong’s government to prop up the city amid competition from Singapore and elsewhere. Stringent pandemic controls and anxieties about Beijing’s political crackdown led to  an exodus of local residents and foreigners  from the Asian financial centre.

But tens of thousands of Chinese nationals have arrived in the past year, the result of Hong Kong  rolling out new visa rules aimed at luring talent in 2022.

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