Hong Kong’s New Territories, the area south of the city’s border with China, is no longer as inaccessible as in decades past, as new transport links closed the distance with Kowloon and the rest of the city.
The price gap between such New Territories districts like Sha Tin, and areas on the Kowloon peninsula like Tai Kok Tsui has also narrowed, underscoring the changing trends as first-home buyers and younger couples moved out further afield from Hong Kong Island.
The change began in December 2003 with the opening of the Tuen Ma line by the MTR Corporation, the city’s subway operator. The line, which is now 56km (34.8 miles) long and runs from Tuen Mun – formerly Castle Peak – in the western end of Kowloon to the Wu Kai Sha station in Ma On Shan in the east, links 25 stations in between as the city’s longest public transport link.
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“From a long-term perspective, the prices of properties along the New Territories’ Tuen Ma MTR line will experience a definite increase,” said Joseph Tsang, chairman of JLL in Hong Kong.
The price gap between Kowloon and New Territories has narrowed from HK$4,000 per square foot in 2010, to about HK$1,700 per square foot according to recent sales launches, said Tsang.
The Century Gateway residential complex by Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) in Tuen Mun saw its average price increasing by almost 14 per cent in June, compared with last year, said Midland Realty’s chief analyst Buggle Lau. That jump outpaced the 4 per cent increase in prices at Taikoo Shing in Quarry Bay on Hong Kong Island, the most actively traded housing estate, as well as the 2 per cent gain at the Kornhill development nearby.
Housing estates in Yuen Long, considered the boondocks as recently as the 1980s, have also seen prices soaring, owing to the improved convenience brought by the Tuen Ma line that runs through the area. A two-bedroom flat at SHKP’s Yoho Midtown measuring 445 sq ft (41 square metres) sold in June for a record of HK$19,775 per square foot when the subway line opened for service. Two stations further west in Tin Shui Wai, transactions were brisk for the Kingswood Villas, where 69 homes changed hands in May, 47 per cent more than a month earlier.
“As long as you’re willing to sacrifice 15 to 20 minutes’ time then [the New Territories] is a good place to live in,” said Midland’s Lau, adding that more younger homeowners would now be willing to do so partly because of the New Territories’ overall living environment.
Some projects in the New Territories outperform Kowloon and Hong Kong Island owing to their new development, with new amenities, infrastructure and facilities, said Lau.
“In Kowloon, a unit can be HK$8 to HK$9 million, but you could still buy property at the New Territories for HK$4 to HK$6 million,” said Jeffrey Wai, a senior district sales director at Midland Realty. The New Territories’ comparatively lower prices overall could be another reason homebuyers still purchased properties in the area despite the recent price increase, he said.