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Hong Kong's priciest pad sold for $60M

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[November 13, 2012]  HONG KONG (AP) -- A luxury Hong Kong apartment in a Frank Gehry-designed building has sold for an eye-popping price of nearly $60 million, the property developer said Tuesday, the latest sign of the city's overheated housing market.

Swire Properties Ltd. said it sold the 620-square-meter (6,683-square-foot) apartment on the ninth floor of its Opus development for 455 million Hong Kong dollars ($58.7 million). It did not say who the buyer was.

Local property agents said it was the highest price ever paid for an apartment in the southern Chinese financial center. The sale comes amid growing concern over surging property prices in Hong Kong driven by ultra-low interest rates and an influx of wealthy mainland Chinese buyers. Prices have doubled since the end of the global financial crisis in 2009, according to a widely watched index.

The Hong Kong government has introduced various measures in an attempt to cool the market. The latest round, including a tax on foreign buyers, was introduced at the end of last month.

The Opus apartment was sold nine days before those latest measures were announced, the South China Morning Post newspaper reported, citing Land Registry data.

The apartment is one of just twelve units in the building, which is perched on the side of Victoria Peak and affords commanding views of Hong Kong. Swire has already sold one other unit for HK$430 million ($55.5 million) and leased out another that comes with its own pool for HK$850,000 ($110,000) a month.

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Gehry designed the building with external glass-enclosed columns which twist around the building to mimic the appearance of reeds swaying in the breeze.

William Lau, a sales director at Midland Realty, said the apartment fetched a record price because it had a "unique" design and location. But he predicted that the broader luxury property market would start to cool.

"These policies will narrow down the supply of the second hand market," Lau said. "For the coming months, we forecast the transactions will keep in a very low level."

[Associated Press; By KELVIN CHAN]

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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