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Hong Kong Budget 2024-25: Radical Measures to Revitalize Property Market

By: Christopher Wiesler



In a bold move to stimulate its sluggish economy, Hong Kong's Finance Chief, Paul Chan Mo-po, has announced the removal of all cooling measures on the city's property market. This unprecedented decision, outlined in the budget blueprint themed "Advance with Confidence. Seize Opportunities. Strive for High-quality Development," marks a significant departure from previous policies aimed at curbing speculation.


Effective immediately, all decade-old cooling measures, including the Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) targeting non-permanent residents and the New Residential Stamp Duty (NRSD) for second-time purchasers, have been scrapped. Additionally, homeowners will no longer be subject to the Special Stamp Duty (SSD) if they sell their properties within two years.


Chan justified these sweeping changes by citing the city's economic challenges and shrinking fiscal reserves. With lived-in home prices experiencing a continuous decline for nine consecutive months, reaching levels last seen in 2016, urgent intervention was deemed necessary to revive the ailing property market.


The decision to lift all property market curbs reflects a calculated response to both external and internal economic conditions. Chan emphasized the importance of maintaining stability in the banking system while acknowledging the need for adjustments to supervisory policies relevant to property lending.


This move follows previous efforts by the government, such as the reduction of buyers' stamp duty for non-permanent residents and additional properties last October. The halving of stamp duty rates, coupled with the introduction of a stamp duty suspension arrangement for incoming professionals acquiring residential properties, aimed to attract talent and stimulate demand in the housing market.


However, the decision to completely remove cooling measures underscores a more aggressive approach to rejuvenating the property sector. By eliminating barriers to property transactions, the government hopes to reignite investor confidence and spur economic growth.


Alongside measures targeting the property market, the budget blueprint includes provisions for revitalizing tourism and reducing financial burdens on residents and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Fresh funding has been allocated to energize the tourism sector, while salary and profit tax reductions aim to alleviate financial strain on the public.


Despite these ambitious initiatives, concerns linger regarding the city's fiscal health. With a projected deficit of HK$101.6 billion, the government faces significant challenges in maintaining fiscal stability and safeguarding reserves.


As the Monetary Authority prepares to announce further adjustments to supervisory policies, the government's decision to scrap all cooling measures will undoubtedly have far-reaching implications for Hong Kong's property market and broader economy. Whether these measures succeed in stimulating growth remains to be seen, but they signal a decisive shift in the city's economic strategy towards bold and unconventional measures.



Implications: 

Hong Kong's decision to remove all cooling measures from its property market bears significant implications for the city's economy and real estate sector. By eliminating barriers to property transactions, the government aims to reinvigorate investor confidence and stimulate economic growth. However, the move also raises concerns about potential overheating in the property market and exacerbating affordability issues for residents. Additionally, the decision underscores a shift in the government's economic strategy towards bold and unconventional measures to address economic challenges. The implications extend beyond the property market, affecting sectors such as tourism and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as the government seeks to alleviate financial burdens and spur overall economic activity. Ultimately, the success of these measures in stimulating growth will depend on their effectiveness in balancing market stability with sustainable economic development.






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