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Should there be a ban on miniature flats? 2017.02.10
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Janice:It’s absurd that people are paying millions of dollars for apartments as tiny as 20 square metres [approximately 215 square feet]. I think the government should regulate the size of flats to protect buyers.

Andrew: So you’re saying the government should stop property developers from building tiny flats? Have you considered the affordability of buyers? These miniature homes are on the market because people can only afford small flats these days.

Janice: This is not about affordability! It’s about the price per square foot which is now at its highest in years. But that doesn’t justify the construction of an 18-sq-m apartment, or even more absurdly one measuring only 12 square metres. Many of these mini flats are even smaller than a parking space. Come on! How can you expect the occupant to have a respectable life?

Andrew: Hong Kong is a free market. Where there is a demand there will be a supply.

Janice: No, there is no demand for small fl ats! It is an artificial demand driven by an artificial property price. The government has a responsibility to protect people from being conned. Reducing the price per square foot would be the first step, followed by an increase in the housing supply.

Andrew: When you can’t stop prices surging, all you can do is to build smaller flats. There is a demand, whether it is artificial or not. People are happy buying those flats and if you set a minimum size, I am sure many will be left out of the property market.

Glossary

price per square foot 尺價
demand 需求
supply 供應
construction cost 建築成本
apartment 單位
property developer 地產發展商

Did you know?

According to the Hong Kong Housing Authority, the average living space per person here is 13.1 square metres (around 140 square feet).

Property developers are now selling flats as tiny as 15 sq m at a cost of millions of dollars. It goes without saying that these are single-person homes. It is almost impossible for a person to start a family in such a small space after splashing out a fortune for a very small flat.

Data provided by the United Nations showed that 58 percent of the people in ‘more developed regions’ live in a floor area of 20 square metres or more while 42 percent live in less than 20 square metres.

Questions

1. Do you agree with Andrew or do you think Janice is correct in this imaginary tete-a-tete?

2. ‘The demand on small apartments is an artificial demand.’ Do you agree?

3. How can property prices fall if the price per square foot keeps going up?

 

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