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Hong Kong expat execs pay most for housing: survey

HONG KONG -- Hong Kong has kept its title as the world's most expensive city for expat businesspeople to live in, ahead of second-placed London, as the financial capital of greater China continues to weather the global financial crisis more successfully than its counterparts in the West.

Residential prices for executive housing rose 7.4 percent in the first half of 2012, property brokerage Savills said in research released on Monday. Prices in Moscow rose by 5.5 percent, Sydney 3.7 percent and London 2.8 percent.

The brokerage tracks property prices for a standard group of seven people, to compare the cost of relocating an executive team to a city.

By contrast, property costs are considerably cheaper in Paris, whose battered banks led to a 3.4-percent fall in rates for executive housing.

Hong Kong has both the highest prices and the fastest pace of growth. Despite slowing economic growth on mainland China, domestic demand within in Hong Kong is strong, although executive rents have been softening.

Housing and office costs for a core financial services business team of seven employees including a chief executive and administrative staff, total 660,000 pounds (US$1.1 million) per year in Hong Kong and 550,000 pounds (US$881,500) in London.

Property prices in Hong Kong were a driving force behind the high turnout at the city's elections on Sunday, where more than 50 percent of eligible voters went to the polls.

The city's new leader, Leung Chun-ying, has introduced policies such as “Hong Kong land for Hong Kong people,” plots that are restricted for sale only to Hong Kong permanent residents. He emerged as the big winner in the elections, as pro-democracy groups failed to capitalize on weeks of angry protest against China-linked policies.

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