‘Rebound may persist for 2 more years’
HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s richest man signalled that the property rebound that has been pushing up prices in the world’s most expensive housing market could persist for as long as two years as growing demand outweighs government curbs.
“I cannot see how property prices would fall in the coming one to two years,” said Li Kashing, the 88-year-old head of Cheung Kong Property Holdings and CK Hutchison Holdings, during his annual earnings press conference on Wednesday. “The force from buyers is very strong.”
The resurgent home market has posed a headache for the leaders here and stoked rising discontent among the city’s residents. After a shortlived dip, home prices have soared in the past year to hit records. Existing house prices have advanced 17 per cent from a low point a year ago, according to the Centaline Property CentaCity Leading Index.
The government in November imposed higher stamp duties targeted at all but first-time local buyers in an effort to rein in prices. The curbs have done little to cool demand, with buyers flocking to newly built units amid rebates and discounts from developers.
Housing costs have dogged Chief Executive Leung Chunying over the course of his five years in power. As the city’s election draws near, the two leading candidates to replace Leung have both singled out unaffordable housing as an issue, signalling that new measures may be rolled out to address rising prices. A committee of 1,200 business and political elites will vote later this month on who will become the next chief executive.
Among those voting will be Li and his sons, but he dodged questions on Wednesday as to who he would cast his ballot for.
Li’s fortune has stayed resilient as Hong Kong’s robust property market boosted stocks of listed developers. His wealth has advanced by US$2.1 billion (RM9.3 billion) this year to US$30.7 billion.
The tycoon was less optimistic about the state of the economy, which he described as being in its worst shape in two decades.
He said tourism-related industries in Hong Kong had deteriorated in the past year and within his retail operations worldwide, Hong Kong’s performance was among the worst.
Separately, Li’s two main companies raised their dividend payments as he followed through on a pledge to shareholders after completing the biggest-ever reorganisation of his business empire.
Li said there was a high chance he would continue to raise dividend payments. Bloomberg