While Hong Kong’s police continue to do their best to beat protestors into submission and city leaders remain stricken with stagefright, mainland students at one of Hong Kong’s largest universities have developed their own response to the Asian financial capital’s turmoil by abandoning their apartments in the city, according to a report in the city’s Apple Daily.
Property agents who spoke to the local media outlet estimated that up to 50 percent of students from Chinese University of Hong Kong living in Shatin and Tin Wai districts had either abandoned their existing leases or allowed them to expire while asking rents had fallen by up to 27 percent in the New Territories neighbourhoods surrounding the 20,000 student institution. The story was first reported in Sing Tao Daily.
The exodus from CUHK even included police bringing in special transport boats to ferry scores of mainland students to safety in Shenzhen last week, according to a Reuters report, after classes were cancelled for the remainder of the term in the face of violent clashes and non-Cantonese-speaking students spoke of discrimination from their local classmates.
Demand Softens as Protests Escalate
Some properties in Taiwai and Shatin, two districts within ten minutes’ by road from CUHK, are leasing for 27 percent less than what they fetched last month, according to property agents cited in the Apple Daily article, while over 200 units stand empty in the two districts following the exodus of mainland students.
In Taiwai’s Festival City residential estate, property agents have reported that a landlord had agreed this month to lease a unit in the complex at 1 Mei Tin Rd for HK$29 per square foot per month — HK$8 below October’s average of HK$37 per square foot, according to Midland Realty.
With students surrendering leases or opting not to renew, agents say that 108 units in the four blocks of Festival City Phase 3 are now empty.
Just over a kilometre away, 39 units stand empty in Golden Lion Garden, while the rate for most affordable available property in the private housing estate dropped this month to HK$11,000 per month, or HK$22 per square foot. That price is 18 percent lower than the HK$27 per square foot which properties were leasing for at Golden Lion Garden in October.
Two metro stops along from Taiwai in Shatin rents are also dropping, with units at Garden Rivera at 20 Tai Chung Kiu Road available for HK$26 per square foot this month. At HK$10,000 per month for a 385 square foot flat, the average leasing rate at the Shatin project this month November is 17 percent lower than October’s average price of HK$12,080, according to Midland Realty data.
A five minute walk from the Sha Tin Wai metro, a 268 square foot unit on an upper floor of Artland Garden in Chinachem’s Shatinpark Stage 1 was rented this month for HK$9,600 per month — a discount of 27 percent on the landlord’s initial asking price of HK$13,000.
Rental Yields Tighten
With rental prices falling in the New Territories, landlords are seeing their net yields tighten.
At the 336-unit Met Acappella development at 7838 Tai Po Road in Shatin, some units are being rented out at a net yield of less than two percent.
Flat A3 on the lower level of Block 1, which has a floor area of 395 square feet, has been leased this month at HK$14,000 per month, or around HK$35 per square foot, after the owner bought the property in 2018 for HK$7.34 million.
Factoring in the monthly management fee of around HK$1,975, the net yield on the property equates to 1.96 percent, according to local property agents.