Get help in finding the luck of the land
Fung shui master Gladys Mak Ling-ling says: 'You don't have to come to me if you are [buying a property as an investment] because the fung shui of the house will only affect you if you live there.'
Fung shui masters are being consulted on everything from the love lives of celebrities to the outcome of political elections, so such a frank admission of the limitations of fung shui is rare.
But because even investors have to live somewhere, what Ms Mak has to say about aligning the nature of the house and the person living there will interest even the most ardent speculator.
Ms Mak said it was important to consult a fung shui master as early as possible before moving in to a property so that there was plenty of time to make changes.
'Many people come to me when they experience problems. But people should come to me before they renovate their house because a lot of things can't be changed after it is renovated,' she said.
'I can only solve the existing problems but I cannot make the fung shui of the house as profitable to you as it could be.'
She advised people to approach her before they put any money down to buy the property, especially if it was an expensive home they were buying.
'If you are buying an apartment, whether it brings good luck or bad luck, it is shared among all the residents. But if you buy a house with only one door, you and your family will have to bear all the good or bad fortunes.'
Ms Mak decided to buy a new flat in 2003 and she spent the whole year flat hunting and then discovered the perfect place in eastern Mid-Levels. She said that the flat showed good signs of bringing good health and fortune.
The most important thing Ms Mak considers when evaluating a property - and the reason there is no need to bother with fung shui if you do not plan to live there - is the property's compatibility with the resident.
'Some people think that if you live in a lucky area you will be lucky. That is not true,' she said.
'An area can be lucky for some people but not so for others.'
Determining which property is lucky and when it is a good time to buy is your date of birth.
'If you are born in the summer, the water element brings you bad luck, and you don't want to live in the south [of Hong Kong Island],' Ms Mak said. 'So no matter how rich you are and how much you like Island South, for example, does not matter. You have to choose a place that suits you.'
The consequences of choosing the wrong property can be as dire as - and sometimes worse than - making a bad investment, and Ms Mak has seen situations go badly wrong.
'There was [an expatriate] family who bought a house in Stanley. They came to me one month after moving in because all the family members had suffered car accidents, separately, within that month. They had made only one mistake. They put big white lanterns above everyone's bed. That is very unlucky.'
There are also times when a property has so much bad fung shui stacked against it that it would be unfortunate for anyone Ms Mak said. 'Another time, a family asked me to see a flat. The flat was in the shadow of the Lion Rock and was an unusually unlucky flat. I told the family that no one should move there. My clients did not buy the flat but another family moved in soon after. That family was killed in an accident.'
Fortunately properties with such bad fung shui were rare, she said.
'Most flats are somewhere in between. Also, lucky people can usually find lucky flats. So, if you are lucky you do not need my help.'
Ms Mak has plenty of advice for the less fortunate. Older buildings are unluckier than new buildings, but that can be partly fixed by renovation.
The three most important things to get right in a house are the door, the beds and the cooker. Buildings on newly reclaimed land are bad luck because the qi of the land takes time to settle. The big question is how to decide if your flat has bad fung shui and if you need the help of a fung shui master.
'You will know within months. It could be that someone is sick, or the man of the house is having an affair. These are all are related to fung shui.'
But by then it may be too late. Especially if you have just finished renovating.