Many Hongkongers rushed to include their names in a ballot on Thursday as buyer applications opened for heavily discounted flats in Kowloon and Lantau Island.
Some 2,057 flats at three housing estates in Choi Hung and Mui Wo will be up for grabs in August under the government’s latest offering of subsidised flats in the Home Ownership Scheme.
The Housing Authority received 1,800 applications as of 5pm Thursday.
Most aspiring buyers are eyeing a flat in one of the 30-storey blocks in Choi Hung, located close to the heart of Kowloon district.
“It’s close to the city centre and transportation is really convenient,” applicant Jacky Tse said at the authority’s Lok Fu customer service centre. Tse arrived early to drop off his application before heading to work.
“I haven’t saved up enough for the down payment yet, but if I’m lucky enough to get chosen I think my parents will support me,” the 22-year-old fresh graduate said.
The flats in Choi Hung and Mui Wo range in size from 368 sq ft to 552 sq ft, and are priced between HK$1.39 million and HK$3.85 million.
Under the scheme aiming to boost home ownership in a city whose property ranks among the world’s least affordable, prices are usually set 30 per cent lower than market rates.
The latest batch on offer is expected to be more highly sought after than last year’s supply, with housing prices on the rise.
Last week, a one-bedroom flat in Tsuen Wan at an upscale development was offered for a record price of HK$10 million – or HK$24,000 per sq ft – after discounts of up to 14.5 per cent.
In one week, the authority distributed 128,300 application forms, 48,600 of which were to public housing residents.
Meanwhile there were 27,400 recorded visits to the centre where model flats were displayed.
Lam Yuk-yin, 70, who came to submit an application for her son, said they would consider living in Mui Wo if their ballot was drawn.
“You need at least HK$6 million to buy a flat in the private sector in Hong Kong. How can young people have such money?” she asked. “At about HK$2 million, this is much more affordable.”
Durga Bahadur Gurung, a native of Nepal, said rental costs were becoming more expensive where he now lived in Yau Ma Tei.
“The rent goes up every other year,” he said. “A flat anywhere will be good, but the Nepalese community is mostly in Kowloon so it will be nice to live close by.”
Applicants’ ballots are to be drawn in June, and those selected can buy their homes from August.
The three housing estates are expected to be completed in August next year and in March 2019.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Aspiring homeowners rush to apply for discounted units