(Adds HKMA data on negative home equity and mortgage approvals)
By Clare Baldwin
HONG KONG, April 29 (Reuters) - Hong Kong’s home prices posted their sixth consecutive month of decline in March, government data showed, with housing supply expected to hit a record high over the next few years.
Home prices fell 3.5 points from February and 21.3 points from a year earlier, according to a government index published by the Rating and Valuation Department on Friday.
Home rents also recorded their sixth consecutive decline, but fell a more modest 0.6 points from February and 6.7 points from a year earlier.
Data from Hong Kong’s de facto central bank, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, showed the number of homes worth less than their purchase price rose sharply in the first quarter to 1,432 cases with an aggregate value of HK$4.9 billion ($631.64 million) as of March 31, HK$195 million of which was unsecured.
At the end of December there were only 95 such cases with an aggregate value of HK$418 million, HK$12 million of which was unsecured.
Hong Kong has one of the most expensive property markets in the world and analysts have been forecasting a 10 to 15 percent decline in home prices this year amid government cooling measures, higher U.S. interest rates and China’s economic slowdown. A slump in stock markets on the mainland has also dampened property investments in Hong Kong.
Data from Hong Kong’s Transport and Housing Bureau on Friday showed the city’s private housing supply was on track to hit a record high of 92,000 units in the coming three to four years.
Housing supply consists of completed but unsold units, those under construction and where construction may start at any time.
A large number of units remained unsold as of the end of March. There were 1,000 completed but unsold units from developments completed prior to 2014, another 1,000 from projects completed in 2014 and 3,000 from projects completed last year, the data showed.
In the first three months of the year, another 1,000 units had accumulated.
Of the units under construction, 86 percent had yet to be sold, the data showed.
Hong Kong Monetary Authority data for March showed that mortgage approvals for new home purchases fell 7.9 percent to HK$3.1 billion on a month-on-month basis. ($1 = 7.7576 Hong Kong dollars) (Additional reporting by Joy Leung; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)