HSBC Boosts Mortgage Rates for the first time in 18 months as Hong Kong Cools Property Market

HSBC Boosts Mortgage Rates as Hong Kong Cools Property Market

HSBC Holdings Plc (5) increased Hong Kong mortgage rates for the first time in 18 months after the city’s banking regulator tightened risk rules on concern a property bubble may undermine financial stability.

Home loans priced at the best lending rate will rise to a range of 2.85 percent to 3.15 percent, from 2.6 percent to 2.9 percent, starting tomorrow, according to an e-mailed statement from the bank. The increase is the first since September 2011, Yvonne Chuang, a Hong Kong-based spokeswoman for the second- largest mortgage lender in the city, said by telephone.

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority on Feb. 22 told banks to set the risk weighting for new residential mortgages at 15 percent or more, to ensure lenders’ capital cushions are deep enough. Standard Chartered Plc last week said the measure will increase its home loan funding cost by a range of 20 basis points to 25 basis points, indicating banks may need to boost mortgage rates.

Since taking office in July, Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has added property taxes, favored local permanent residents over foreigners, tightened mortgage rules and increased supply after home prices doubled in the past four years.

HSBC ranked second in the city’s home loan market last month with a 17 percent share, while Standard Chartered was in fourth position with 13 percent, according to Hong Kong-based mReferral Mortgage Brokerage Services.

Borrowing costs in Hong Kong are close to record lows because the Hong Kong dollar’s peg to the U.S. currency ties monetary policy to the Federal Reserve, even as the economy is driven by China’s growth.

Government Auction

Kerry Properties Ltd. (683), the developer controlled by Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok, won a tender for a residential site in Hong Kong’s Ho Man Tin area for HK$11.7 billion ($1.5 billion), the government said in an e-mailed statement today. The price is equivalent to about HK$10,200 per buildable square foot, said Alvin Lam, a surveyor at Centaline Property Agency Ltd., the city’s biggest closely held realtor.

“It shows developers are still confident about the market despite all these curbs,” Lam said. “The per square foot price is not as crazy as the sites sold in the past couple years but the fact that someone is still willing to invest such a big amount in real estate means they don’t see prices crashing anytime soon.”

The site is the first sold by the government since Feb. 22, when it doubled stamp duty taxes on all property transactions exceeding HK$2 million and raised mortgage down payment requirement on some properties.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Tong in Hong Kong at stong17@bloomberg.net

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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