One of Macao’s top realtors, William Kuan Vai Lam, has welcomed Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng’s announcement that the government plans to resume land auctions shortly.
The Standard newspaper in Hong Kong reported that Kuan, who heads the Association of Property Agents and Realty Developers of Macau, said that the resumption of land auctions, last held in 2008, would not raise property prices but result in “more transparency” for the real estate market.
Ho announced the relaunch of land auctions in a Q&A session in the Legislative Assembly last Wednesday, a day after delivering his 2022 Policy Address.
Ho said the aim of the upcoming land auctions was to raise public revenue and tackle budget deficits incurred over two years in a row due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the local economy.
However, Ho cautioned that the land auctions would depend on market demand and needed to be in line with the needs of the residential property market and the government’s public housing projects.
Ho warned that thousands of large, highly-priced flats were standing vacant as local residents cannot afford them because of their high price and large size. He hinted that many potential homebuyers were looking for smaller and therefore cheaper flats.
Since the establishment of the Macao Special Administrative Region in December 1999 only three plots of land have been awarded to the private sector through land auctions. Most plots were directly granted to enterprises and organisations over the past two decades, such as for casino-hotel operators.
In 2014, Macao passed a decree that all future land concessions would be awarded by auction except when public interest is involved. Macao’s land area amounts to just 33 square kilometres.