“Panic buying” is probably the only phrase that’s apt to describe a situation where 1,300 buyers queue up for several hours in the hope of buying one of four flats selling for around HK$15,000 (US$1,917) per square foot.
That was what happened on Tuesday, however, when the four final units at Parc City, a new residential project in Hong Kong’s Tsuen Wan, were put on the market – or rather back on the market, after their original buyers pulled out, losing their deposits in the process. The clamor made the headlines in several local newspapers and meant all of Parc City’s 953 units sold in the space of nine days, with more than 20,000 people taking an interest.
In cashing out a total of HK$9 billion from Parc City, Chinachem Group has emerged as the city’s top real estate developer this year. Last Friday alone, the company sold HK$4 billion worth of property, its highest single day of sales. Such numbers are fairly common for Hong Kong’s “big four” developers but they’re something special for Chinachem.
Unlike Cheung Kong Property, which has described its business model as being akin to a bakery – it bakes flats like an oven bakes bread – Chinachem is known more for being a patient market player. Last year, the group sold its last unit at Hongkong Garden, on Castle Peak Road, an astonishing 31 years after the first unit there sold back in 1985.
The final unit sold for over HK$20 million. The first sold for just 5% of that sum. Such has been the trajectory of Hong Kong’s property boom in the last three decades.
Chinachem seems to have upped its game in the last couple of years, with a renewed aspiration to become one of the city’s premier developers.
Last year, it sold out Papillons, a Tseung Kwan O residential project, with thousands of buyers lining up at Chinachem’s Tsuen Wan headquarters.
The attraction for consumers is based less around Chinachem Group itself, however, than on its contractor, Gammon Construction, a Jardine Matheson company.
One property agent said buyers were so hungry for flats, they were happy to snap up even Chinachem flats, supply of which, in the past, tended to outstrip demand. With the market in jubilant mood, the agent said, “everything goes, even Chinachem.”
Gone are the days when a big property project took years to sell. In Hong Kong, real estate seems more like selling ice-creams on a hot summer’s day.