They're this big: Li Ka-shing at a press conference in Hong Kong, March 29, 2012. (Photo/CNS)
Hong Kong property tycoon Li Ka-shing was recently taken to task by members of the public after a building project he promoted included some mini-apartments so small they earned comparisons with prison cells, the finance site of web portal Sina reports.
Li's Cheung Kong (Holdings) Limited this week opened for sale an apartment project in the Tai Po district of the New Territories, setting a new record for small-unit apartments in Hong Kong, including one unit with an area of just 177 square feet, or 16 square meters, a residence sarcastically dubbed a luxurious prison by local media.
The apartment includes a bedroom area of just eight square meters, about the same as a prison cell in Hong Kong at 7.5 square meters.
However, although media have repeatedly criticized the marketing of such mini apartments in Hong Kong, they have not been short of takers, such as Sino Land's project in Kowloon's Tai Kok Tsui.
What is surprising, however, is that this time local academics did not follow the media in criticizing the developers but rather said this was an "inevitable trend." Over the past year, apartments with an area of 400 square feet (36 square meters) or below have seen their rental, price gains and turnover all exceeding average levels, reflecting hot demand, experts said.
This is quite different from a few years ago, when larger apartments of over 80 square meters were the most popular for property developers, as the property market was to a large extent supported by buyers from mainland China. From October 2012, however the Hong Kong government in a bid to beat speculation levied an additional 15% tax on houses bought by non-permanent residents.
Over the past half a year, apartments below 27 square meters in size and priced below HK$3 million (US$387,000) have seen the most stable rental returns of 4%-6% per year, according to Mr Yao, a realtor.