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Tuesday, December 8, 2015, 13:09

HK's property cooling measures to stay: CE

By Xinhua & Oswald Chan / chinadailyasia.com

HONG KONG - Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said on Tuesday that property cooling measures will remain in place despite recent signs of a fall in property prices.

Speaking ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting, Leung said it was not the government's responsibility to make sure home prices do not fall.

"We are seeing in recent months a slight dip in rent and prices, this is sort of bucking the trend," he said, adding that the government was determined to tackle the housing shortage by increasing land supply.

Hong Kong's property prices have more than doubled since 2009, consistently ranking the city among the world's most expensive property markets.

The government resorted to strict measures a couple of years ago, including doubling the stamp duty, or property transaction tax, on many buyers, mainly non-permanent residents, to cool the market. It also raised down payment requirements, in some cases to 60 percent of the sales price.

The CE's assertion came on a day DTZ/Cushman&Wakefield forecast Hong Kong mass residential home prices would fall between 5 and 8 percent in the first half of 2016. This is because a possible hike in US interest rates in December would have a direct impact on home sales and buyers' sentiment.

However, the global commercial real estate advisory firm believes Hong Kong home prices will not crash because local economy is still resilient, unemployment rate is low and the rate of US interest rate hike would not be excessive.

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