Hong Kong increased the maximum mortgages available for certain buyers at the end of last week, the first easing on home purchase limits brought in in 2009.

The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio cap was raised to 60% to 70% from 50% for properties worth up to HK$30 million ($3.8 million).

The aim of the initiative is to help those seeking to purchase or upgrade homes for their own use. The number of visitors to new and existing home launches rose by 20% to 30% over the weekend compared to the week before, according to Asia Pacific vice chairman of Centaline Property Agency, Louis Chan.

"However, the buyers would not react so quickly because the economy is still not good," Chan said, in relation to uncertainty over the prospect of interest rate rises.

Chan said 75% of current transactions are worth HK$10 million or less, featuring small apartments; as such, the measure would help around just 20% of the transactions.

Following a 15% decline in house prices in 2022, the government was urged to ease property curbs with initiatives including ditching additional stamp duties for second-time homebuyers and non-citizens, Reuters reports.

Yet the government has no plans to ease further measures following the move on Friday, said Financial Secretary Paul Chan. He added that as property prices remained comparatively high during a housing shortage, this was not a time for further adjustments.

According to property agents in Hong Kong, a borrower would require a monthly income exceeding HK$100,000 to borrow 60% of a home priced at HK$30 million.

"To improve the property market, you can't just loosen one measure; you need a basket of relaxations," said Alvin Cheung, associate director of Prudential Brokerage, who added that buyers were cautious of extra borrowing as interest rates are rising.

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