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(Bloomberg) — Hong Kong’s usually booming property market has virtually ground to a halt as the fear of coronavirus impacts life in the city.
Just 13 homes were sold in the first three weekends after Chinese New Year at the city’s 10 largest housing estates, according to Centaline Property Agency Ltd. data.
“Buyers are adopting a wait-and-see attitude,” said Sammy Po, chief executive officer of Midland Realty International Ltd.’s residential department. “They will act only if they find bargains.”
Read more: China Home Sales Plunged 90% in First Week of February on Virus
However, sellers aren’t willing to budge much, betting the outbreak of the deadly virus will be short-lived and demand in the world’s least-affordable housing market will soon rebound. Prices in the secondary market rose 0.8% between Jan. 19 to Feb. 2, according to Centaline.
“Owners believe the disease can be contained, therefore their outlook on the property market isn’t very bleak,” said Benny Wan, a branch manager at Centaline. “This is unlike SARS, when people had to slash prices drastically because they had never witnessed anything like that. The market condition isn’t that severe now.”
The number of diagnosed coronavirus cases in Hong Kong climbed to 49 as of late Tuesday, RTHK reported. Fear of catching the disease has also deterred people from visiting showrooms, while would-be sellers are reluctant to open their homes for inspection.
Read more: Virus Scare Empties Malls on World’s Priciest Shopping Strip
Meanwhile, Midland Realty, one of the largest property agencies in Hong Kong, started to offer front-line staff unpaid leave for “health concerns” on Tuesday. Po expects property prices to drop by 5% to 10% this year as a result of the outbreak.
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