Famous for its shoe box apartments and microflats, Hong Kong's property market isn't known for being cheap, taking the crown on multiple occasions for being the most expensive globally.
For those living in or considering a move to the city, an interactive map now shows the amount of time needed before buying a home makes sense over renting.
Developed by real estate platform Spacious, the tool assigns various neighborhoods in Hong Kong a "tipping point," referring to the number of years before rental costs exceed the cost of buying property. Tipping points will be high when rents are lower than the level they should be or when property prices are above what is expected based on rental yields.
Neighborhoods with high tipping points are highly desirable among buyers, who often overpay in terms of property sale price, said Asif Ghafoor, chief executive of Spacious Hong Kong. This premium could be due to expectations of capital appreciation or buyers' intentions to live in the property themselves, he added.
The average tipping point stands at 5 years for Hong Kong permanent residents (PRs) and is three times higher for non-PRs at 15 years.
The difference in prices levels for PRs and non-PRs is due to stamp taxes imposed by the government to cool interest in the property markets from abroad — including from mainland China. Non-PRs pay a 30 percent stamp duty when purchasing property in Hong Kong.
In prestigious neighborhoods, such as The Peak, Shouson Hill, Jardines Lookout and Kowloon Tong, tipping points for Hong Kong PRs stood at 25 years.
For non-PRs, the tipping point for the same neighborhoods is "never" — rental costs will never exceed the cost of buying property.
With the change in stamp duties, the differences in property prices can be "quite staggering," Ghafoor said, adding that for many PRs, it wouldn't make sense to buy property in Hong Kong at all.
Potential buyers could also pay attention to neighborhoods near areas with exorbitant tipping points that could have significantly lower ones.
Wong Chuk Hang, a neighborhood adjacent to exclusive Shouson Hill, has a tipping point of just 7 years for Hong Kong PRs and is in the process of gentrifying. Ghafoor also highlights up-and-coming Chung Hom Kok, a neighborhood in the south of Hong Kong Island with a tipping point of 9 years, which is located close to Deep Water Bay — once called the world's wealthiest neighborhood.
The property platform also created a mortgage calculator tool so users could estimate their property expenditure.