A week ago, TVB debuted a new show called “有樓萬事足?” (literally, “All is fulfilled once you own a flat?”) which follows a number of characters in their endless pursuit of owning property (or pursuit of someone who does). One of the characters, a 22 year old jewelry model named “Seasun”, says, “有樓有高潮、無樓咪白撞,” meaning “I will only have an orgasm if you have property. If you don’t have property, don’t bother chasing me.”
Buying property is a high stakes game
Seasun’s rationale was this – a home was a precondition to starting a family, for without it, a woman can’t be comfortable enough to make babies. In another segment, our 25 year old single-mother Whitney (the same Whitney from “求愛大作戰” who found her love after the show but is now divorced) forfeited her HK$490,000 initial deposit because she signed the agreement but her bank was unable to finance her 90% mortgage.
How Whitney lost her half million
When you buy a home, you sign a sale & purchase agreement (“SPA”) and pay a deposit. But banks do not process your mortgage application until they see the SPA. If your mortgage application falls through, your deposit is forfeited. Sellers will refuse to sign an SPA subject to mortgage application. Any mortgage above 60% (for flats <HK$7m) is subject to insurance and applicants must pass the “stress test”. Whitney failed the test.
How to finance the purchase of a “dream home”
Seasun says that her man must buy her a “dream home” of at least 2,000 sq. ft. An old flat that size will cost at least HK$20m (US$2.56m), requiring downpayment of HK$10m (banks only lend 50% for flats >HK$10m). But many high valued flats are held by shell companies to save stamp duty (at 0.02%, vs 7.5-8.5% for flats >HK$6.72m). You buy the company itself, but getting a loan to buy shares is difficult. You probably need to pay full price.
Our heroine Inky is looking for a husband
Then there is our heroine, 32 year old Inky, who work in market sales. She doesn’t need a man who owns a flat, because she already owns a flat. She tells her story on how she was raised by a single mother and had to work since she was 16 to pay her own tuition. She only eats one meal a day to save money, though on TV, she doesn’t look particularly malnourished. But her story still presumes that a flat is a precondition for marriage.
Is an apartment a precondition for orgasm?
Seasun is criticized by those who retort that orgasms depend on skills, rather than flat ownership. But maybe what Seasun means is that she needs a 2,000 sq. ft. flat to achieve orgasm. You can’t take that away from her. Yes, there are single people who own flats, and many more married couples with children who don’t. But the problem is that we are hedging our happiness on the property market. TVB was quick to capitalize on this.
Few days ago, a PRC-owned joint venture purchased an Ap Lei Chau site for HK$16.68b at HK$22,118/sq. ft. It is expected that the finished suites will need to be sold for more than HK$32,000/sq. ft. just to break even. Even by the most conservative calculations, it will cost a whooping HK$64m (US$8.2m) for Seasun to achieve an orgasm in Ap Lei Chau. At this rate, no wonder HongKongers aren’t making babies no more.