Buggle in a muddle?

Has Buggle lost his mind? Buggle Lau, the Hong Kong media’s most reliable quote-provider on property issues, works for a real-estate agency. He therefore usually cheerfully proclaims that every day is a good day to buy an apartment or three. This suits the newspapers, which depend on developers, developer-run conglomerates and mortgage-providing banks for much of their advertising, and whose tycoon proprietors are best buddies with the land-owning families.

So it comes as a shock to find Buggle blurting out something along the lines that you would be nuts to buy a home in Hong Kong at these prices…

The obvious explanation is that the poor guy has ingested hallucinogenic mushrooms and has no idea what he is saying. Another is that the property intermediaries are suffering from low transaction volumes and calculate that business might pick up if prices fell.

Former Chief Executive CY Leung’s policies, ostensibly to cool the housing market, just so happened to reduce turnover of second-hand properties while pushing buyers into bidding up prices of new-build apartments with easy financing from the developers. The prices making headlines today are high because (among the other distortions) there is an artificial premium attached to the primary market, and much of the secondary market is ‘missing’.

Even by Hong Kong standards, it is a perverse situation where the crappiest, most overpriced products (brand-new flats) seem the most affordable, or at least accessible

To state the obvious: as soon as a brand-new apartment is sold, it becomes second-hand and thus instantly loses some of its supposed value. Buggle and his colleagues would benefit from a more liquid second-hand market, and – happily – they can perform a socially useful service by warning suckers away from the developers’ lures.

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5 Responses to Buggle in a muddle?

  1. Headache says:

    I suspect that you, like many people who haven’t worked as journalists, are imagining or exaggerating coherent editorial objectives behind the news. The NYT may be consistent but our English-language press, bless ’em, are not, not even the Alibaba Morning Post. Mostly they’re just desperate to put out content and get a few clicks.

    The reporter always needs a quote and has the number of an ‘expert’ who’s always willing to provide one. The quote is extracted in about 20 seconds, often while the expert is on the street or between meetings. The expert often puts little thought into what he says and may contradict himself as he hastily fabricates ‘insight’.

    Some experts are fairly suggestible if the reporter has a particular angle in mind. Here, poor old Buggle wasn’t even quoted directly, only paraphrased, so who knows what he really thinks. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter because the story is filed and it only needs to be true, or plausible, for 24 hours.

    I speak of the for-profit press here, and I use that term loosely. The SCMP wouldn’t be profitable but for its side-business in billboards and advertising hoardings.

  2. Congratulations.. Your 9998th article about property.

    Eric Berne said that you can tell when someone is old, when they talk about money at the dinner table instead of about girls. I suppose the same rule applies to blogs.

    See you in the Devil’s Advocate. Rum crowd but the pension hasn’t arrived. Someone will recognize me and stand me a snifter.

    Pip, pip!

  3. Deep Throat says:

    Here’s a dinner party game for you. Name the last time the Saaf China scooped anything.
    p.s. Articles retracted later don’t count.
    p.p.s. Using it to scoop dog eggs doesn’t count either.

  4. Whatsisname seems to have the idea that property is not important enough to write about. Considering that the average Hong Kong person spends a large part of their life struggling to pay either their mortgage or rental, that unaffordable home prices underlie much of the general disaffection in Hong Kong, and that for most middle class people their home is their only significant asset, it seems to me that no serious writer on Hong Kong matters can avoid the subject.

  5. Joe Blow says:

    Here’s a tip for all you sad property victims: go and live in Manila. It’s less than an hour flying. Always sunny. Cheerful people and for P 50,000- (US$ 1,000-) you get an enormous apartment, including 1 or 2 brown slave girls, and maybe there is a pool in the complex as well. Margaritavile all over. You’ll be smiling all day. Who needs a bedsit in Stanley ?

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