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The Doubling of Property Taxes Immediately Slows Hong Kong Real Estate Market

“Residential property sales in Hong Kong fell after the government doubled a sales tax, saying bubble risks are spreading in the world’s most expensive place to buy an apartment.

Secondary sales for the 15 most popular housing estates fell 15 percent at the weekend from the previous weekend, according to Buggle Lau, chief analyst at Midland Holdings Ltd., the city’s biggest publicly traded realtor. The stamp duty on all properties above HK$2 million ($258,000) was raised to as much as 8.5 percent of the purchase price.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s latest attempt to cool the city’s real estate market sent shares of developers and realtors lower amid concerns that transactions will dry up and prices will decline. Since taking office in July, Leung has added extra property taxes, favored local permanent residents, tightened mortgages and increased supply after home prices doubled in the past four years on near-record low mortgage rates, an influx of mainland Chinese buyers and a lack of new units.

“The government intends to turn away yield seeking investors from all property markets,” JPMorgan & Chase Co. analysts, led by Lucia Kwong, wrote in a report today. “Developers may see 5 to 10 percent share price downside.”

The Hang Seng Property Index, which tracks the shares of the city’s nine biggest developers, fell for a seventh consecutive session, the longest losing streak since the seven sessions to May 14. It fell 0.3 percent at the close to the lowest in almost two months, after declining as much as 1.7 percent. The index has outperformed the Hang Seng Index (HSP) in the past 12 months, gaining 14 percent compared to the benchmark’s 7.6 percent.

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