More than 100 people, undeterred by the city’s economic and political uncertainty, queued up on Thursday for the chance to buy one of a new batch of subsidised homes in Hong Kong.
A total of 7,047 flats in four new developments in Diamond Hill, Fo Tan, Ma On Shan and Fanling are up for sale, with prices ranging from HK$1.23 million to HK$5.13 million (US$662,000).
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Usually heavily oversubscribed, the flats are available at a 37 per cent discount on the market price, and buyers will be chosen through a lucky draw, which costs HK$250 to enter.
Those in the queue for application forms said getting a decent and affordable place to live was still their primary concern, despite the issues the city faced.
Construction worker John Ng, 30, who picked up a form at the Housing Authority’s centre in Lok Fu, said he would accept any offer from the four estates, because the chance of winning a housing lottery was slim.
“Being chosen when the odds are 10,000 to one, I’d feel really lucky,” he said.
His family of six, including his two children and his parents, currently rent a flat in Mong Kok, but have to move every three to four years because of the rising cost.
“I just want a permanent home so my kids won’t have to keep changing schools. It’s really about them,” he said, adding that Hong Kong’s economic slump would not affect his family’s desire to buy a home.
Another applicant, 55-year-old M.Y. Lo, was trying her luck for a second time. She lives in a 100 sq ft subdivided flat in Kwun Tong and pays HK$7,600 (US$980.60) in rent each month.
Asked if the weak economy and political unrest affected her decision to apply, Lo said having an affordable place to live was more important.
“I’ll take anything I can get,” she said. “I grew up here and pay taxes but I have nothing, no affordable place to live.
“Everyone should just have one chance of getting a subsidised flat. Those who choose not to take it shouldn’t be able to apply again.”
Hong Kong was ranked the world’s least affordable housing market for the 10th year in a row in 2019. It would take 20.8 years, on average, to save enough money to buy a home in the city, according to the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey published in January.
Chan (surname only), a first-time applicant in his 20s, wants to get a 300 sq ft flat in Diamond Hill, and live there with two other family members.
“Rent in Hong Kong is so expensive, it’s just better to have a place of our own,” he said. “Right now I live with six to seven people in a 300 sq ft flat in Yau Tsim Mong district, so it’s really crowded.”
But Chan said he hoped to move overseas because of the political climate in Hong Kong, following months of social unrest and the implementation of the national security law, but could not afford to do so.
“I would leave Hong Kong immediately if I could, but I don’t have the money,” he said. “I have no faith in the government but there’s nothing I can do. I have no choice but to stay here.”
Of the flats up for sale, the most expensive unit is in Kai Cheung Court in Diamond Hill, followed by Choi Wo Court in Fo Tan, Kam Chun Court in Ma On Shan, and Shan Lai Court in Fanling.
The Fanling development has the most flats on offer, with 3,222 compared with the one in Fo Tan, which has 806.
Applicants can choose to submit the application and payment online, by mail or in person. The ballot is expected to be drawn in January, and flats can be selected as soon as June.
More from South China Morning Post:
- Applications for more than 7,000 subsidised flats in Hong Kong set to open in July
- Hong Kong’s young homebuyers set sight on subsidised starter homes in Kowloon East, spurn ‘horrible’ micro flats
- Home rents in Hong Kong continue to fall as landlords concede more yields amid recession