In many ways, Sha Tin — the district and the New Town — forms the perfect mini-snapshot of Hong Kong overall. Planned as a satellite town to ease housing pressure in Kowloon, Sha Tin has grown into its own vibrant beast. Serving as a major transport hub for the area’s 600,000-plus residents from Tai Wai to Fo Tan to Ma On Shan, Sha Tin is the location of public housing as well as several luxury developments, a complement of four major hospitals, an ESF secondary school (Sha Tin College) among dozens of others, a wealth of leisure facilities (Ma On Shan, Tai Mo Shan and Shing Mun country parks are not too far afield) and the requisite shopping and dining. New Town Plaza is one of the busiest in Hong Kong on any given weekend. It’s not just a suburb anymore.
Reason to Move
But Sha Tin has the kind of diversity not always found in Mid-Levels, Central or Repulse Bay. At the aforementioned New Town Plaza, Shatin Centre and Shatin Plaza you’ll find Giordano and Petline butting up against Zara and Chanel Beauté. Like other prime districts, Sha Tin has both a Wellcome and a city’super. It appeals to families as much as singles, and increasingly to Hong Kong’s expatriate community, who value the relative space and greenness of the area.
It could be argued that Sha Tin has one of Hong Kong’s most varied real estate sub-markets. The district’s 20 public housing estates (with another two currently under construction and three in the planning stages) five were Tenants Purchase Scheme properties, with an additional 25 Home Ownership Scheme courts dotting the landscape, of which a handful of those are private developments. Rents can still dip as low as $8,000 or $10,000 per month in Sha Tin and village houses are not uncommon, and prices range wildly between under $3 million to well over $50 million — though often for considerably more square footage than the same price would get you in Mid-Levels.
Which is why Sha Tin is predominantly an end-user driven market. “It can be counted as an end-user driven submarket, as many would-be home buyers may not be difficult to identify apartments available for sale,” explains Raymond Ho, managing director of Vigers Appraisal & Consulting Limited. “The district can be regarded as an affluent middle-class area with many private middle- to high-end housing estate transactions. Sometimes, villa transactions can also be found there, especially during the boom period of the latest local residential property market.” Ho points out the local infrastructure (the shopping and services), tertiary education facilities (Baptist University’s Shek Mun Campus, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Hang Seng School of Commerce, The Institute Of Vocational Education) add to the district’s liveability, and to a certain extent, “Property investors have often been attracted by Sha Tin’s close proximity to the large Sha Tin Racecourse, alongside many recreational and sport facilities in the district.” The old KCR line also goes directly to China.
Compared to other parts of Hong Kong, Sha Tin is plugging along at the same subdued pace. Its 579 transactions over the last six months represent a quarter of all transactions in the eastern New Territories, and 4 percent of Hong Kong’s total. And at an average of $9,301 per saleable square foot, prices are a relative bargain. Prominent buildings such as City One Shatin ($9,900), Belair Gardens ($5,900), Garden Rivera ($7,700), Prima Villa ($8,400) and Ravana Garden ($8,400) are all resolutely affordable. And there should be plenty to choose from in the coming years: the 2013/14 land sales year saw residential plots totalling over one million square feet sold in Kau To Shan, Fo Tan and Ma On Shan.
The next big development for Sha Tin will be the MTR’s Sha Tin to Central link, scheduled to open in 2018. How much the new rail line will influence Sha Tin remains to be seen; Sha Tin is already connected by train, and the terminus is at Tai Wai. The eastern line is clearly designed to serve existing residents rather than bring infrastructure to new regions. Will the SCL have the same knock-on affect that has already spilled into Sai Ying Pun and Wong Chuk Hang?
“We see the market transactions improving further on better accessibility by other non-Sha Tin residents. We have some reservations on a huge upside in Sha Tin property prices because of the MTR extension factor, since the sub-market should have already been fully priced in a rally upon the announcement of the railway extension project,” cautions Ho. Vigers’ research estimates occupiers in the immediate area are more likely to grin and bear the construction agony for now and then reap leasing benefits once the new stations are up and running. “Non-Sha Tin residents could also be attracted to the area on improved accessibility,” finishes Ho. Doesn’t sound like a sleepy district anymore.