Hong Kong has gone through a great deal of struggles; it could not have weathered the storm if not for the great perseverance that Hongkongers demonstrated when faced with adversity. Tony Wan Wai Ming, Director, Sales & Marketing (Hong Kong Properties) of K. Wah International, appeals to young people to not be disheartened, choosing instead to thrive on challenges, adding that tenacity, self-strengthening and courage are the cornerstones of the Lion Rock spirit displayed in difficult times.
Raised in a grassroots family, Wan is a down-to-earth veteran in the property industry. “When I was young, my family of eight lived under the same roof in a public housing flat. My mother was the breadwinner who worked as a taxi driver,” said Wan. He sees himself as one of the many grassroots growing up together with Hong Kong, thus understanding young Hongkongers’ aspiration to move up the social ladder and to share the fruits of economic prosperity. The real estate expert theorises that living well is less about home ownership and more about the government’s resolution to employ subsidised housing resources in creating “authentic homes”.
While studying at university, Wan worked various odd jobs such as conveying goods, washing dishes and construction work to provide for his family, which taught him the values of responsibility and accountability, and that “what seems difficult at first will get easier when you put in the effort”.
Wan continues, “I was once asked by a young person why local property prices have gone through the roof. Feeling hopeless, they would rather spend money on travelling rather than saving for a home deposit.” He considers this a common way of thinking nowadays, due to a lack of commitment to home ownership, and often at the expense of quality living. Naturally, some people tend to think of purchasing as an impossible mission wherever home prices sit. Hong Kong’s hard-earned reputation for a world-class city cannot be made possible without the hard work of the older generation; it’s decades of concerted effort that make the city a successful one.
When asked about the current sky-high prices, Wan sees the lack of vision in housing strategies in the early years as the root of the problem. “Former Chief Executive Donald Tsang’s suspension of constructing flats and subsidised housing led to the supply-demand imbalance we have today. On the other hand, despite struggling with space, Hong Kong people are accustomed to “owning a place to call home” and “extending their family from there”. In addition, many overseas investors choose to buy their second home in the city, and as a result, housing demand rises and this marks the advent of nano flats,” he remarked.
Wan goes on to explain, “nano flats are the products of the time that already saturated the residential market two years ago. The total cost of a nano flat may be more affordable, but its per-square-foot price is not, and when demand starts to drop, this type of residence would soon be replaced. He expects the supply of micro apartments to dwindle, although admitting that this sub-market hasn’t shown signs of crashing yet. In fact, K. Wah International is not keen on small flats. The group’s one-bedroom flats have to meet the minimum size of 300 square feet. “Our boss always puts a high level of emphasis on size and functionality, given that most people could only afford one home in their life,” he said, which leads to why the developer often builds show flats to be tested for practicality while constructing new developments.
“A few years ago when I visited Bangkok to view a one-bedroom flat of about 400 square feet. I noticed that the bedroom was sectioned off from the living area by a sliding door, in contrast to a concrete partition wall – which takes up more space – commonly used in Hong Kong. This innovative idea, as well as a range of stackable furniture, eventually shed some light on how we create a sense of space in our new flats. The final result has been welcomed by the market as well as industry players,” he recalled.
Referring to land supply, Wan personally supports the Lands Resumption Ordinance, considering that reclamation is a long-term project and consists of a bigger budget. But the first thing to do is to settle any compensation arguments rising from the acquisition of land, and then expediting the building process of subsidised housing for the lower class.
Wan points out K. Wah currently has an estimated supply of over 10,000 units from both self- and co-developed projects. With no pressure on cash flow, the developer will align its sales strategy with the market demand. He adds that whether sale prices would be adjusted will completely depend on the market sentiment, as a price surge will only incur risk in the long run.
相片提供PHOTOS COURTESY OF K. WAH; WAYNE LI