Hidden Gems: Hong Kong’s Up and Coming Districts For Savvy Home Seekers

Posted in Ask An Estate Agent

The city’s luxury districts are well-documented, but when it comes to acquiring new residences, investors would do well to consider the unexpected.

When it comes to Hong Kong property in 2020, the adage of “nothing new under the sun” is a truthful one. The city’s geographical contraints mean there’s little chance for the birth of an entire district along the lines of King’s Cross in London, or New York’s Hudson Yards. The closest Hong Kong has to that kind of massive re-imagining is the ongoing development of the former Kai Tak airport. Stay tuned.

Hong Kong property
(Image credit: Kai Tak Oasis)

So when it comes to identifying Hong Kong’s most underrated, overlooked or emerging luxury districts, buyers and agents need to think creatively — and look to the future. That means considering where value can be found, and embracing the evolving definition of ‘luxury’ itself. Vibrant street life and walkability have become key considerations for buyers and tenants, neck-and-neck with the longstanding question of accessibility. With the prospect of periodic city-wide lockdowns increasingly becoming the norm, we’ll all be eyeing escapes at home — like those found in massive country parks and generous hiking trails on the western side of Hong Kong island and the water on all sides in the south. In 2020, such options on your doorstep are the definitive embodiment of luxury.

For decades, the Holy Trinity of premium living has been (and remains) The Peak, Repulse Bay and Mid-Levels, Central. These neighbourhoods are traditional bastions of space, setting and exclusivity. In recent years, Sai Kung, Clearwater Bay and, to an extent, Deepwater Bay have lobbied for a place on that list: Thanks to their close proximity to water, low housing density and increasing ease of access. But as buyers (and renters) get younger, and social habits evolve, the concept of what goes into a luxury home is morphing similarly into something more design-driven, sustainable, urban and authentic. No longer are marble bathrooms enough.

Hong Kong property
Repulse Bay

The first sign the tide was turning was the rush to Kennedy Town in 2009 (market watchers will recall the MTR Corporation announced a much-watched extension that same year). A few intrepid small investors and developers looking at the long view had already started making plans (The Merton was completed in 2005), and before long values were rising. People moved in and more elegant residential towers went up (Cadogan). Those were followed by innovative restaurateurs, cafés and retailers. Before long Kennedy Town had become gentrified and was bucking for luxury status.

Hong Kong property

There are plenty of corners in Hong Kong now flirting with a similar pattern: involving a mix of value, connectivity, and lifestyle. Lantau Island, now with sleek developments like Whitesands and Botanica Bay, is an overlooked luxury district — one which could garner fresh attention for the resort-like lifestyle it offers. For the adventurous, undervalued Aberdeen and its ingrained waterside community make for a smart long game investment — one that will mature when the South Island Line West connects it to the rest of the city. The direction Kai Tak heads in — on what will ultimately be the Tuen Mun MTR line — is anybody’s guess, though the Oasis development is a solid indication of what’s to come.

Hong Kong property
(Image credit: Regalia Bay)

Stanley, Mid-Levels West and Pok Fu Lam currently lead the pack on the value front. Prices in conventional high-end locations — the aforementioned trinity — have remained resilient (as is usually the case in times of geopolitical instability) but just a few steps away are pockets which offer tremendous value. In many cases, they’re even preferable. Stanley, for example, features beaches and greenery; a solid track record of lifestyle amenities; hip waterside dining; and a forthcoming bypass that puts it just 25 minutes away from Central — the same distance as nearby Repulse Bay. The difference being an approximate 10-15 discount on the former. Stanley flats in Regalia Bay or 22 Wong Ma Kok Road rival much of what’s available in Repulse Bay (and surpass them when you consider it’s not necessary to get in a car to run to 7-Eleven).

But Hong Kong’s real unsung hero could be Sham Shui Po. Mainly known once upon a time for pirated DVDs, fabric stores and the Golden Computer Arcade, it’s now emerging as an ultra-hip district — and doing so under the radar. Down the road, one MTR stop from re-energised Cheung Sha Wan, the streets there are now cluttered with restaurants, chic cafes, underground art spaces and young tech start-ups, many inspired by the (now-closed) Savannah College of Art and Design. As luxury continues to becoming increasingly design-led, regenerated flats in older buildings with personality are becoming more appealing to the modern, high-flying tenant. Sham Shui Po is at a similar point in its development curve as Kennedy Town 15 years ago, and the slow trickle of revitalised industrial buildings and residential towers — naturally, with a little boost from the Urban Renewal Authority — suggest the area is getting ready to kick-off its reinvention as a contemporary luxury hub.

Victoria Allan
Victoria Allan is the founder of Habitat Property, a real estate company specialising in the sale and leasing of luxury property in Hong Kong. Prior to establishing Habitat in 2001, Allan held the position of Commercial Leasing Director at Colliers Jardine. She has over 25 years experience in residential and commercial real estate across a variety of global markets — including Hong Kong, Australia, Canada and the US.

Tips for Hong Kong Buyers Looking to Invest in the UK Property Market

Posted in Ask An Estate Agent, Before You Buy

Unless you’ve been taking self-isolation to the extreme, you’ll be aware of the recent political developments in Hong Kong — more specifically, the enactment of the national security law — and how it’s been a cause of international concern.

As a result, leaders of countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom have suggested reassessments to their visa systems, offering Hong Kong residents new routes towards citizenship, should they feel the need to relocate. Yesterday, on 22 July 2020, the United Kingdom became the first to confirm its renewed visa policy, specifically directing to the three million British National (Overseas) passport holders in Hong Kong.

According to the statement, Hong Kong’s BNO holders can apply for a special visa starting in January 2021, which will allow them the right to work and study in the UK for up to five years. They will then be able to apply for settlement, and seek citizenship after a further year.

Many are expecting an influx of affluent Hong Kong citizens moving to the UK following such an announcement, especially over the next 12 months. In response to these developments, London-based Montague Real Estate is establishing a new division — of Cantonese translators, legal experts and lifestyle advisors — to help meet this anticipated demand for premium properties for High Net Worth Hong Kong citizens. We’ve gotten in touch with founder and CEO Thomas Balashev, who shared with us some of his knowledge of the UK’s prime residential property market, as well as tips and advice to those seeking to relocate to the country.

Can you tell us a bit about the prime residential property market in the UK?

TB: The UK property market has always been a prime investment opportunity for international buyers, including those in Asia. London isn’t just a desirable place to live and do business, it is a stable and reliable point for investment. With world-class educational institutions, a stable economy and a central hub for business internationally, the UK property market makes for an attractive investment. This, coupled with the current nine-month stamp duty holiday the UK government has introduced [from 8 July 2020 to 31 March 2021], has created an injection into the market meaning it is a prime time to buy in the UK with some buyers saving on additional costs. 

As the current economy has seen the majority of the UK working from home, and with many organisations looking to continue this for the foreseeable future, consumers have become more aware of their space at home, both inside and out — which has become a priority for buyers. Buyers are now not only looking for a definitive line between working and living, but private outside space which has meant that houses have become more popular than flats. 

Five bedroom terrace house for sale in Knightsbridge, London

How would the surge in demand for premium residential properties from Hong Kong affect the current market?  

TB: Whilst it is, of course, natural that demand will increase following the announcement from the UK government and current political position in Hong Kong, London has, and always will be a favoured destination to buy and invest for overseas clients. With over 200,000 properties in London being owned by Asian clients, we have seen an increase in activity from Hong Kong buyers over the last two to three years. Some may question inventory levels as a result of the surge, but the majority of our previous transactions for our HNW and UHNW clients have happened off-market so inventory is never an issue. 

So far which areas are of particular interest to Hong Kong buyers? Are there different areas suited for young professionals, families, and older demographics?

TB: Neighbourhoods in London, like anywhere, have different offerings which naturally appeal to different clients. Our previous buyers have taken interest in Knightsbridge, Belgravia and Islington. However, we often see younger clients such as students and young professionals opt for regenerated spaces in East London which reflect the high-rise living they are accustomed to in Hong Kong. These developments usually come with serviced living options and progressive smart home interiors making them as modern and sophisticated as possible.  

With that being said, a number of clients invest in areas surrounding open spaces such as Hyde Park and Richmond Park. These locations offer an escape and the more natural side of London — something that isn’t overly accessible in Hong Kong. Our clients with families, however, have taken an interest in our super-prime listings in the home counties such as Surrey and Kent, with accessible links to central London and key airports for global travel. 

11 bedroom detached house for sale in Surrey

Are there any legal restrictions for overseas buyers with a BNO passport? 

TB: The details of the BNO visa are yet to be fully revealed. However, having a five year stay assured would allow buyers to feel confident in investing in an area like London, knowing they can build a life and a future here.

Any advice for those who might not wish to relocate yet, but looking to invest in a property to hold on to or rent out for now as a safety plan?

TB: Foreign investors buying properties in London with a view to rent them out has always proved popular. There is a strong rental market in London suiting all budgets, with a quarter of all those aged under 40 in the UK looking to rent. The devaluation of the Pound Sterling over the last few years also makes now an excellent time to buy.

Depending on a foreign investor’s circumstances, they may or may not need to pay income tax on their rental income. However, in the long term, investing in a property will be a steady source of income whilst providing an option to relocate permanently.

What should Hong Kong buyers be aware of before deciding on a purchase in the UK?

TB: Buyers looking to invest into the UK property market should be aware that there are different requirements for different types of property acquisitions. These requirements will also differ between buy-to-let and buying for residential purposes.

The recent [reduced rates for stamp duty land tax] mean that until 31 March 2021 buyers will only have to pay stamp duty on properties over £500,000 (previously it was set at £125,000, or £300,000 for first-time buyers), but note that the government does implement a ‘holding charge’ on residential properties valued at over £2 million owned by non-UK domiciled persons. As for those from abroad who don’t live in the UK, don’t have UK citizenship, and don’t want to pay in cash, it is of course still possible to secure a buy-to-let mortgage in the UK to cover the property purchase price.

Thomas Balashev is the founder and CEO of Montague Real Estate, a London-based boutique real estate firm and private office specialising in complex global property investments and acquisitions. Balashev’s involvement in the property space stretches a decade, partnering with key developers in Cyprus, Dubai and Mainland Europe to provide luxury real estate to his clients across the globe.

Cindie Chan

Top 5 Cities to Invest Overseas Now

Posted in Ask An Estate Agent

Amidst increasingly heated political tensions and a battered post-pandemic economy, it’s only natural that many of Hong Kong’s existing property owners and prospective buyers are now looking to invest overseas, with the many windows of opportunity offered across the globe.

The urge to exit Hong Kong — or at least, to gain a foothold in an aspirational destination — has recently spiked since Beijing unveiled a controversial national security law on 21 May, sparking fears that it will bypass local Hong Kong legislature.

According to the South China Morning Post, buyers have been “accelerating their decision to buy property overseas, while others are cutting their asking price for local properties” in a bid to cash in and emigrate as soon as possible.

Amidst an uncertain landscape, overseas investment can offer attractive opportunities for alternative income whether for capital gains, rental yield or, simply, an answer to the desire to relocate. We ask five real estate agents and analysts on the top cities in the world to invest in now.

Lisbon, Portugal

“Asian and international investors are not new to the Lisbon market,” says Oliver Banks, Senior Negotiator, International Residential Developments at Knight Frank. “Since the start of the Golden Visa Programme in 2012, 8466 applicants have taken advantage of the opportunity to invest in property in order apply for the scheme, which has amounted to €5.1 billion (approx. HK$43.9 billion) of investment into Portuguese real estate.” 

The potential language barrier aside, Portugal’s capital offers an “enviably luxurious lifestyle at low cost,” says Banks, “as well as solid economic fundamentals, affordable property prices (€1 million buys you 125 sq.m., or 1,345 sq.ft.), strong rental yields (4-6 percent) and improving transport connections. This combination has resulted in an international hotspot for investors, developers and tourists alike.”

In a post-CoViD-19 landscape, Lisbon offers plenty of beneficial reasons to invest in comparison to its neighbours. Banks adds, “whilst prices are momentarily muted, this could provide a small window of opportunity to investors. Portugal’s successful handling of the pandemic in comparison to their European neighbours has meant they are among the first to ease restrictions; combining this with strengthening demand and limited prime supply will underpin Lisbon’s price growth, which is forecast to rebound by 5 percent in 2021.”

Property to watch: A’Tower

A’Tower is a contemporary building that exemplifies Lisbon’s most attractive aforementioned qualities. With only 34 residences in total ranging from one- to five-bedroom layouts, A’Tower offers the privacy sought by higher net worth residents while also located in the Amoreiras quarter, a preferential location to explore the best the city has to offer.

Auckland, New Zealand

top 5 cities overseas property - Auckland
Auckland’s Jervois & Lawrence.

New Zealand has been impressing the rest of the globe with its swift action combatting the CoViD-19 crisis, its proximity to urban centres as well as breathtaking landscapes, and is renowned for exceptional quality of life and a thriving, stable business environment. 

“With no Capital Gains tax or stamp duties, New Zealand has an enticing offering for investors, so whether you’re looking to invest for capital gains, rental yield or because you want to own property in a special part of the country, New Zealand is a great place to look at homes for sale,” says Suzie Wigglesworth, General Manager of the Projects division of New Zealand’s largest full-service real estate firm Bayleys.

Property to watch: Jervois & Lawrence

One of the most desirable properties in Auckland’s idyllic Herne Bay, Jervois & Lawrence boasts a coveted northern slopes location, incredible views and a collection of 28 highly-refined, luxury residences in the heart of an upscale neighbourhood.

London, United Kingdom

London’s appeal as a city barely requires introduction. Whether it’s the rich history and culture, exceptional architecture and green spaces, the charm of the city is undeniable. It’s also currently poised at a preferential rate for overseas investors looking to tap into its prime developments. 

“Historically, London has always held the status of ‘safe haven’ with international buyers, and the time to invest here has never been more compelling, thanks to the effective currency discount currently available in prime central London,” says Rupert des Forges, Head of Prime Central London Developments at Knight Frank.

Property to watch: Chelsea Barracks

“For overseas purchasers looking to make an investment in London, there are a number of exceptional prime developments to choose from,” says des Forges. “However, one best in class example is Chelsea Barracks, developed by Qatari Diar, where a high specification design and luxury craftsmanship make it a very compelling investment for purchasers looking to acquire a prime asset in one of the city’s most desirable postcodes.”

Sydney, Australia

Australia is already synonymous with an exceptional quality of life with its abundance and proximity to some of the world’s most pristine beaches and national parks, a great education system and healthcare infrastructure. 

“Sydney’s fundamentals as a city remain unchanged and the prime market is poised for resilience in uncertain times, says Erin van Tuil, Partner of Crown Residences at One Barangaroo. 

“Sydney has emerged on the global stage for luxury home offerings and has seen increased demand from ultra-high-net-worth individuals [UHWNIs — defined as those who have a net worth of at least US$30 million] who continue to flock here.” 

The numbers also indicate healthy growth in the past few quarters. “The prime property market in Sydney has recorded strong and sustained price growth historically. Recently, Knight Frank research revealed Sydney’s prime property market recorded 4.7 percent growth 12 months up to March 2020,” says van Tuil.

Property to watch: Crown Residences at One Barangaroo

Following the global trend of the vouched-for quality and return when investing in a branded residence, you’ll want to look to properties such as Crown Residences at One Bangaroo — the first fully-integrated hotel branded residence in the country. “I can’t see there is a greater investment opportunity at the moment or that there will be for some time.” says Van Tuil.

New York, United States

Despite the political turmoil across the US as well as soaring pandemic cases — both perhaps creating a reasonable cause to hesitate when it comes to investing Stateside, the US appears to remain as the top destination for buyers from the Asia Pacific.

According to Knight Frank’s 2020 Wealth Report, “Asian investors planning to purchase property in 2020 indicated a clear preference for prime residential markets, with the US leading as the destination of choice,” says Georgina Atkinson, manager of the residential division at Knight Frank Asia Pacific. In an uncertain global market, finding stability is key.

Moreover, Manhattan in particular will always uphold its position as “the worldwide centre of finance and culture,” Atkinson adds. “Alongside its globally renowned higher education and medical facilities, the city’s real estate has for decades proven to be a coveted and stable asset. In times of uncertainty, buyers gravitate towards markets that are resilient, offer stability and long-term price appreciation which is what we are seeing at present in respect of New York City.”

Property to watch: The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria

For a high-end residence symbolic of New York’s enduring cultural status, you’ll want to look to The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria. Interest levels have been peaking lately, with “the level of enquiries received in recent weeks from buyers across multiple markets in Asia, looking to purchase a trophy asset investment opportunity in arguably the world’s safest real estate market,” says Atkinson.

“The full block property, which will include 375 condominium residences and the 375-key Waldorf Astoria New York hotel, will welcome residents and guests in 2022.”

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

Should you Invest in Hong Kong’s Property Market during CoViD-19?

Posted in Ask An Estate Agent

Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past 10 months, you’ll know that Hong Kong’s real estate sector has been experiencing its sharpest decline in nearly a decade. Amid the worst economic contraction in the region’s history (8.9 percent in the first quarter), commercial investments have proven particularly vulnerable — hit by the lethal one-two combo of months-long anti-government protests, then the global coronavirus pandemic.

Data released by investment firm CBRE indicates these factors (and the resulting slump in consumer confidence) contributed to one of the worst quarters for retail property transactions since 2009: only 20 deals, roughly amounting to HK$7.5 billion, have been made so far this year.

By contrast, though there remains an air of caution among consumers, experts’ prognosis of the city-wide housing market is steadily improving. To make sense of the government’s quantitative easing policies, the latest price data, and ultimately, whether you should wait longer for the market to bottom out; we phoned up Victoria Allan — an ex-director at Colliers who now manages her own premium realty firm, Habitat Property, here in Hong Kong.

Let’s start with an overview: what sort of shape was Hong Kong’s real estate market in at the end of 2019 versus around the time that the first wave of coronavirus infections hit? What are the most noticeable changes?

VA: Towards the end of 2019, the city’s property market already wasn’t in a great way — given all of the (ongoing) political protests. Those had a significant unsettling effect on the market, pushing prices down across the board by about 10 percent. As for CoViD-19, market sentiment was already becoming negative as early as Christmas 2019 — that’s because it was playing out in conjunction with a wider global downturn brought on by the pandemic.

Given the current position of the housing market, have there been any changes in government policy that have made it easier to purchase residential property?

VA: As a result of the pro-democracy protests, the HKSAR government actually altered the policy for first-time homeowners: enabling them to gain easier access to property valued at under HK$10 million (by reducing the amount they’d have to pay in their deposit). At this time, no further adjustments in policy have been made to take into account the economic impact of CoViD-19. It’ll be interesting to see if the government relaxes these policies. However, having had tight restrictions on lending over the last decade, there’s very little debt in the Hong Kong property market which can help to support price levels.

What have some of the most obvious impacts been on buyers since the property market was hit by Covid-19?

VA: We’re seeing many buyers seize the opportunity to invest — especially where it’s for self-use. Market prices are being discounted by 10-20 percent (as compared to 12 months ago), so it’s actually an opportune moment for those who want to purchase their first property or sell the one they currently own and upgrade. Sellers also need to keep a closer eye on personal liquidity, so it’s easier to negotiate with them for a reasonable price.

Hong Kong property
The sprawling penthouse in Repulse Bay has come down to a price (negotiable) of HK$95 million over the past two months. (Image source: Habitat Property)

In the case of new homeowners, it’s a great time to enter the market with either a small investment or property for self-use. Ditto for listings where the price is below HK$10 million — that’s a huge opportunity to buy at lowered prices whilst being able to finance at a higher level (i.e. up to 90 percent financing for properties priced below HK$8 million; and 80 percent for those below HK$10 million).

Hong Kong property
The Villa Helvetia penthouse includes amenities made possible by the surrounding environment of Repulse Bay – including a terrace, private garden and fibre optic cabling. (Image source: Habitat Property)

Foreign investors are also starting to re-examine the Hong Kong property market, as experts generally see it as a market with more medium-term stability than Europe and the U.S. As the number of CoViD-19 cases increases in those regions, their economies are projected to be worse-hit than Hong Kong.

Continuing in that vein, could you give a brief rundown of the opportunities that investors now have that mightn’t necessarily have been available if they were purchasing pre-CoViD-19?

VA: Absolutely! In addition to the reduction in market prices that has averaged 10-20 percent, another side effect of the public health emergency has been that a more varied range of properties has come up for sale. Even though we’re seeing some evidence that suggests the market hasn’t yet bottomed out, most buyers can be confident that if they buy now they’ll be able to take advantage of some discount.

Which residential districts in Hong Kong do you think best support these findings about the current market?

VA: For the purposes of easy illustration, the most dramatic reductions representing good ‘value’ can be found in high-end areas like Repulse Bay. The median price for a three-room apartment in developments like Ruby Court, for instance, has come down to HK$53 million.

Hong Kong property
Buyers and nascent investors will find the best, most dramatic bargains in non-urban neighbourhoods such as Repulse Bay (pictured) or Stanley.

To wrap up: can we get you to make a top-line prediction about the market’s trajectory over the next 6 to 8 months?

VA: Personally, I think that the market is already starting to stabilise — there’s more confidence locally given that Hong Kong seems to have the total number of CoViD-19 cases under control. However, the region’s borders still haven’t been reopened — which raises the possibility (however remote) of a third wave of cases. Last but not least, we have the reoccurring issue of protests: that’s bound to keep a lid on consumer sentiment and pricing. All told, I think the market could fall another 5-10 percent in 2020 before making a full recovery.

Hong Kong property

Victoria Allan is the founder of Habitat Property, a real estate company specialising in the sale and leasing of luxury property in Hong Kong. Prior to establishing Habitat in 2001, Allan held the position of Commercial Leasing Director at Colliers Jardine. She has over 25 years experience in residential and commercial real estate across a variety of global markets — including Hong Kong, Australia, Canada and the U.S.

Randy Lai

What to Know Before Investing in a Second Home

Posted in Ask An Estate Agent
Photo by Naomi Hébert on Unsplash

Buying a second home is often a lifelong dream for many. Whether it’s a vacation home, a commuter home or an investment property, there are plenty of reasons why expanding your assets could be a great fit for your lifestyle. But before you pull the trigger on purchasing your next dream abode, make sure you know all the costs, both literally and figuratively, that come with it. To help you out, here we break down some important real-life considerations when buying a second home.

How much time will you spend at your second home?

If you do not plan on using your second home as a residential property but rather an investment property, remember that you will become a landlord and with that comes many responsibilities. You might be required to do minor repairs, and you might not find a tenant right away. Be prepared to have three to six months of total costs (mortgage, taxes, and homeowners insurance) to prevent any financial hardship while looking for a tenant for your income property. Location, location, location. Location is one of the biggest considerations when considering a new home. You need to ask yourself “Why do I really want a house here?” and “What would I do with it if I had it?” If you decide to rent out your second home, you’ve got to be sure to research community resale values, economic trends, tax rates, schools, etc. so that it’s a property that others will want to rent out. 

Are you buying the right property for you?

When looking to buy a second home, there could be a long list of reasons. You can buy an apartment or a house in an area where you are planning on retiring or a cottage that you can rent for short or long-term should you wish to enjoy the land as well. You need to keep in mind that the type of property/location you invest in, it will also have an effect on your insurance costs. As an example, if you invest in a home in California, you will need earthquake insurance in addition to home insurance. Always look for an insurance company that is in close proximity to your next investment, they will have a better understanding of the area and can give you a more accurate insurance quote. 

What about the upkeep and maintenance?

With a second property on hand, it means that you will have to re-adjust your monthly budget to include utilities, landscaping, property tax, maintenance fee (if you’re in an apartment building), occasional home repairs, etc. 

How will you pay for this second property?

Getting a second mortgage is the first thing that comes to mind when looking to get second property unless you are financially stable. Financial institutions will always use the same criteria when approving mortgages. Before looking into a second mortgage, you have to ensure that you have a stable income, a good credit score and relatively no outstanding debt that can be used against you. We suggest that you reach out to your financial adviser so that they can put you on the right path and see what’s realistic for you and your goals. Tax rates for properties will increase with time, so allow for your budget to grow accordingly as well.

Austin Miao

Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Real Estate Agent Before You Buy

Posted in Ask An Estate Agent

The relationship you have with your real estate agent is one of significance. Especially since they are the advisors, the experts, and the business partners, that will help you through important transaction(s). It is therefore critical, not only to have done careful planning and research, but also to ask the right questions. To ensure we get to these questions right, we’ve enlisted Chris Liem, the Owner and Principal of luxury real estate Engel & Volkers Hong Kong to help us with the best fact-finding questions you need to ask your real estate agent before you commit to buying.

1. Recent transactions

Make sure to ask your real estate agent if there have been any recent transactions in the building. This will give you a reference to relative pricing in the building and last sale. Remember that floors will differ in value too, as do different unit shapes; for instance A units versus B units, one will be the most popular in the building.

2. Building age and management fees

The age of the building, along with the management fees, will affect how much capital will be required for your purchase. So it’s best to ask these questions beforehand so you don’t get any surprises.

3. Comparable buildings

Most good agents will be able to list comparable buildings for you. So you should ask to get that point of reference which will make your decision to buy or sell much easier.

4. Summary

Ask your agent to summarise your request. It seems so simple, but I promise this will save you a lot of time later.

5. Where would you buy?

Putting the agent in your shoes will usually reveal whether they think the property is worth the investment. After all, they will usually have the best idea of value. For example, you can ask them: “If you had the money, where would you buy right now?” or “Where is the best location for living?” and “Where is the best property price wise?”.

Fontaine Cheng
Born and bred in London, Fontaine is a self-proclaimed foodie with extensive experience in the luxury lifestyle landscape. When not exploring the world — discovering cultures and tasting new dishes — she can be found sipping a nice cup of tea (or G&T) hoping to adopt a puppy.