The cost of real estate in Asia — at least in the continent’s financial centers — is rapidly catching up to levels only before seen in New York and London. An apartment in Hong Kong was sold for $58.7 million in October, Bloomberg reports, setting a new record in how much the world’s über-rich are willing to spend for a posh address.Swire Properties, a centuries-old real estate developer in the former British colony, sold the 6,683-square-foot apartment to an unnamed buyer last month, the company revealed yesterday. The sales price equals $8,800 per square foot or $94,500 per square meter, a record in the largely autonomous Chinese city. The apartment is one of twelve in the exclusive condominium designed by legendary architect Frank Gehry, best known as the man behind the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Calif.
The sale is the condominium’s second so far. The first apartment sold, one floor lower, had been sold for $55.5 million in August. Another apartment is being leased for $110,000 per month. With nine more apartments up for grabs, the overwhelming race for largesse could soon reach new heights. But such prices still pale when compared to the mind-boggling $11,270 per square foot one has to pay to live in London’s prime address, One Hyde Park.
The apartments on Hong Kong’s Peak, overlooking the vibrant financial center and one of the world’s busiest ports, are beyond imagination for Hong Kong’s ninety-nine percent. It would take a person earning the city’s average wage roughly three thousand years of savings to afford one of the apartments: that’s the equivalent of a frugal family’s average savings since the beginning of the Iron Age.
The purchase price must have stunned the real estate developers, too. In May, Swire’s CEO Martin Cubbon told the New York Times that the owners intended to keep the property in their hands and lease out the particular units. “They are not interested in selling unless there’s an exceptional offer,” he said. Yet, home prices may not stay so staunchly high for very long, despite doubling in the past three years. In fact, many analysts expect real estate prices to start falling soon, thanks to a new administration headed by former real estate surveyor CY Leung has sped up the construction of public housing projects and has been putting in place measures discouraging non-local investors from buying property in the city.
In the meantime, the commercial property market has yet to cool down in the city that is home to Asia’s richest man, Li Ka-shing, who accrued much of his riches as a property developer. After eleven years, New York’s Fifth Avenue was overtaken by Russell Street, a fairly unknown one-way street in Hong Kong’s busy Causeway Bay area, as the world’s most expensive retail space, according to a study by property agents Cushman & Wakefield published this week. The Champs-Élysées in Paris and Tokyo’s hipster-hub Ginza ranked third and fourth.
(PHOTOS: Timeline of Hong Kong, 1997-2007)