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Hong Kong’s ‘Last Train’ Rush

Isabella Steger The Wall Street Journal 10/15/2010 04:50
Hong Kong’s ‘Last Train’ Rush - Hong Kong - Business - Real Estate

Last-minute applicants to a Hong Kong residency scheme, presumably many from the mainland, rushed to purchase property before a change in rules took effect today. But analysts say the hefty mainland Chinese appetite for Hong Kong homes is unlikely to shrink soon.

The Immigration Department said it received around 200 applications yesterday for the Capital Migrant Investment Scheme, or more than six times the daily average of about 30. The surge followed Chief Executive Donald Tsang’s announcement in his policy address Wednesday that property purchases would no longer qualify applicants for residency under the scheme. Local press described the surge as a rush by Chinese buyers to squeeze onto the “last train” into Hong Kong via the real-estate market.

Mainland Chinese buyers have become a force to be reckoned with in Hong Kong property. James Cheung, director of Centaline Surveyors Ltd., said research shows that up to 30% of total residential sales this year are from mainland buyers.

“And this doesn’t even include transactions made under a company’s name, so the figure could be more,” said Cheung.