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LCQ3: Areas of private residential flats

Following is a question by the Hon Starry Lee and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Eric Ma, in the Legislative Council today (April 12):

Question:

In recent years, the prices of private residential properties have hit record high time and again. As affordability of prospective buyers decreases continuously, the residential flats built by private developers have become increasingly smaller. Some members of the construction and surveying sectors have pointed out that residential flats with a usable area of less than 15 square metres (sq m), i.e. 161 square feet (sq ft) (commonly known as "nano flats"), are not suitable to serve as a long-term residence, and they also run contrary to the Government’s vision of improving the average living space per person. On the other hand, the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) has recently included in the tender documents for its residential development projects provisions stipulating the minimum areas of one-bedroom flats and studio flats to prevent developers from developing nano flats under these projects. Moreover, in December last year, the Secretary for Development indicated that the Government was very concerned about the prevalence of nano flats in the market. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) in respect of the private residential flats completed in each of the past five years and those scheduled for completion in each of the coming two years, of the following information on those flats with a usable area (a) ranging from 161 sq ft to 431 sq ft and (b) below 161 sq ft respectively:

(i) the number of flats and its percentage in the annual flat production;
(ii) a breakdown of the number of flats by District Council district;
(iii) the area of the smallest flat;
(iv) the average per-square-foot price; and

(2) whether it will study measures to reverse the trend of residential flats becoming increasingly smaller (e.g. making reference to the aforesaid practice of MTRCL, and including in the land leases of residential sites put up for sale provisions which impose restrictions on the "size" and "number" of flats); if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:
 
President,
 
After consulting the Transport and Housing Bureau, I reply to two parts of the question as follows:
 
(1) Each year, the Rating and Valuation Department (RVD) compiles completion statistics of private domestic flats for that year and the forecast completions for the next two years, with breakdown by district. These units are classified by reference to floor area as follows:

Class A flats (saleable area less than 40 sq m);
Class B flats (saleable area of 40 sq m to 69.9 sq m);
Class C flats (saleable area of 70 sq m to 99.9 sq m);
Class D flats (saleable area of 100 sq m to 159.9 sq m); and
Class E flats (saleable area of 160 sq m or above).

In compiling completion figures for previous years, the RVD will break down Class A flats into flats with saleable floor area less than 20 sq m (i.e. about 215 sq ft) and flats with saleable floor area of 20 sq m to 39.9 sq m (i.e. about 215 to 429 sq ft).

The completion figures of private domestic flats with saleable area less than 20 sq m and those with saleable area of 20 sq m to 39.9 sq m in the past five calendar years (i.e. 2012 - 2016) are set out at Annex A, with breakdown by district. Annex A also lists out the total annual completion figures, and the percentage of these flats relative to the total annual completion figures.
 
The RVD has not compiled relevant breakdown for Class A flats in respect of forecast completions. The forecast completion figures of private domestic flats with saleable area less than 40 sq m for the next two calendar years (i.e. 2017 and 2018) are set out at Annex B, with breakdown by district. Annex B also lists out the total annual forecast completion figures, and the percentage of these flats relative to the total annual forecast completion figures.

The Government has not compiled statistics on the average per-square-foot price of flats completed each year and the area of the smallest flat.

 (2) There is a time gap of several years between the sale of residential sites and the completion of residential units on such sites, and the market constantly changes in the intervening years. At this stage, the Government considers it appropriate to leave flexibility to the market to adjust based on market needs. The Government will closely monitor the market situation; and if circumstances warrant, we may consider imposing suitable requirements through sale conditions when individual residential sites are put up for sale.
 

Ends/Wednesday, April 12, 2017
Issued at HKT 14:30

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