Home loan approvals up in October as first home buyers weigh in
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Home loan approvals up in October as first home buyers weigh in

The lending patterns over the month follow on from the RBA’s decision to pause rates in October

By KANEBRIDGE NEWS
Mon, Dec 4, 2023 12:49pmGrey Clock 2 min

Lending for housing is on the rise, new data from the ABS reveals. Statistics released today show lending for housing rose 5.4 percent seasonally adjusted in October, up from an increase of 0.6 percent in September.

Owner occupiers saw the highest increase over the month, up 5.6 percent compared with loan commitments for investors at 5 percent. The stronger results may reflect the pause in interest rates over October.

The RBA declined to increase the cash rate at its board meeting in October, giving those entering the market confidence that rates may have peaked. However, at its November meeting, the board announced interest rates would increase a further 0.25 percent, bringing the rate up to 4.35 percent.

The number of first home buyers gaining approval for new loans was up 6.2 percent in October, compared with 5.0 percent for investors, seasonally adjusted.

In terms of the differences between owner occupiers and investors, there’s a clearer contrast over the past 12 months, with loan commitments for investors up 12.1 percent compared with a much more modest 1.4 percent for owner occupiers. Among owner occupiers, the value of new home loans commitments by first home buyers rose 11.8 percent over the 12 months.  

Construction of new dwellings was up 9.1 percent over the month, although it is still -19.5 percent down over the 12 months to October 2023. Purchase of newly erected dwellings was up 1.7 percent, compared with -5.3 percent over 12 months and purchase of existing dwellings 



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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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