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The Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre today released the findings of a survey on the housing demand of youth, which solicited young people’s views on the property market as well as the role that they expected the government to play.
As part of the Centre’s ongoing effort to understand youth aspirations and expectations, the survey polled over 1,000 Hong Kong people aged between 18 and 39 through telephone interviews, from 23 to 31 May 2012. The findings will serve as reference for any further studies or in-depth discussions that may follow.
The Centre’s Chairman Anthony Wu said, “Obviously, housing for youth is an important matter that deserves more public attention. We hope our survey will provoke thoughts and stimulate wider discussions about the issue to help the Government formulate a comprehensive policy that addresses the housing needs of our young people.”
The study found that more than a quarter of the respondents (27.4%) intended to buy a housing unit in the coming five years after considering their financial situation and other factors. Of these, around 69% said they planned to purchase private housing rather than subsidised flats, while nearly three-quarters stated that they had a financial plan to help achieve their home buying goal.
Commenting on the findings, Mr Wu said, “Young people seem to have stronger preference for private homes over subsidised housing. Moving forward, our housing policy needs to address the residential mobility of the youth.”
On top of the list of reasons for buying a housing unit were ‘improving living conditions’ (30.1%), ‘for investment/ wealth preservation purpose’ (25.3%) and ‘getting married/ cohabitating with partners’ (24.9%). Meanwhile, the three most cited home buying considerations were ‘the price of the unit’ (67.0%), ‘proximity to school/ workplace’ (21.1%) and ‘the size of the unit’ (20.9%).
When taking into account their current financial situations, 67% of the respondents said Government assistance in home buying would be required. Respondents cited ‘the launch of “low-interest” or “interest-free” loan schemes’ (33.2%), ‘stabilising housing prices by regulating the property market’ (22.0%) and ‘the revival of the Home Starter Loan Scheme’ (14.4%) as the most effective measures to support young home buyers.
“‘Resuming Home Ownership Scheme’ (14.4%) and ‘the sale of public rental housing’ (6.2%) were considered less effective. This is in line with respondents’ preference for the private property market,” Mr Wu added.
On challenges to their home purchase plans, ‘soaring property prices’ (58.8%) and ‘insufficient personal savings for downpayment’ (41.2%) were considered the biggest obstacles they faced.
When asked about the possible sources of their downpayment, respondents mostly cited ‘personal savings’ (40.4%), ‘loans from banks/ financial institutions’ (17.9%) and ‘seeking help from parents’ (10.6%). With respect to mortgage payments, more than 58% of the respondents found a 30% mortgage-to-income ratio acceptable.
“Though a small proportion of the young people decided to resort to family contributions to achieve their housing goal, it is encouraging to know that more than 40% of the respondents planned to do so with their own savings,” Vice-Chairman of the Friends of Bauhinia and Convenor of the Taskforce on Housing Lau Ming-wai said.
The survey also assessed youth opinion on the rental market.
Some 20% of the respondents intended to rent a housing unit in the next five years for reasons like ‘property prices exceeding affordability’ (27.0%), ‘improving living conditions’ (18.8%) and ‘getting married/ cohabitating with partners’ (19.4%). Among the respondents who planned to rent a home, 54.1% opted for private housing, while 43.4% preferred subsidised flats. As with potential home-buyers, costs and location were the major considerations for potential tenants.
It is worth noting that nearly half of the respondents (46.0%) said they needed Government assistance in renting a residential unit. The most cited relief measures were ‘increasing public rental housing quota for the youth’ (28.5%), followed by ‘offering subsidised rental housing’ (20.2%) and ‘the launch of “low-interest” or “interest-free” loan schemes”’ (18.2%).
Mr Wu said, “According to the latest statistics, nearly 25% of the applicants on the public rental housing waiting list are under 30 years old. Careful interpretation of this figure is crucial to mapping out an effective and sustainable housing policy.”
Mr Lau added that the Centre will look into the feasibility of a follow-up study on this very important subject. “Focus group discussions can help us find out the messages behind these figures. We will be happy to have youths from different socioeconomic and housing conditions participate and share with us their housing aspirations and concerns.”