Developer defends legality of selling new flats without advance viewing

The builder of Hong Kong's cheapest new flats says circumstances make it OK to sell them without the advance viewing usually required by law

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 July, 2014, 12:25am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 July, 2014, 3:22am
 

Hong Kong's largest developer, Cheung Kong, defended its decision to prohibit prospective buyers from viewing flats in a new development, saying it did not break the law.

The company was adamant that it would not change the sales arrangement for the Mont Vert residential project in Tai Po, which requires people interested in buying a flat to sign a "no-viewing agreement".

The development includes some of Hong Kong's cheapest new flats, with a 194 sq ft studio selling for as little as HK$1.94 million. The first batch of 260 will be offered next Saturday.

Hong Kong law requires developers to allow potential buyers to view the actual flat or a comparable unit in a completed project. If they can't do that, they must seek the consent of the prospective buyers to go ahead sight-unseen, something Secretary for Transport and Housing Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung characterised as a last resort.

But Justin Chiu Kowk-hung, an executive director at Cheung Kong, said the company was complying with the law by being transparent about the lack of available flats to show.

"Those who believe we do not supply sufficient information about the project should delay their purchase," he said.

"Due to consideration of the safety of prospective buyers, it is not reasonably practicable to open the project for public viewing as the construction work of the phase-two development is still going on inside the site."

Cheung Kong did create two model flats at its sales office in Hung Hom, but not at the site.

Cheung said the government took the case very seriously.

"The passage of the Residential Properties (First-hand sales) Ordinance [in 2012] was to ensure flat buyers as consumers would be protected," he said.

Compounding the problems with advance viewing, the Sales and First-hand Residential Properties Authority (SRPA) alerted prospective buyers yesterday to the existence of grave sites near two of the towers in the new development.

Brochures for the development made clear the graves' existence, but prospective buyers would not be able to see them without visiting the site.

Cheung said the SRPA would decide whether Cheung Kong violated the law after studying the developer's explanation and seeking legal advice.

One potential buyer said Cheung Kong should let people in her position inspect the actual flats they would be buying.

"Show flats of such kind are a publicity stunt. A friend of mine decided to purchase a residential property after visiting a show flat and later felt deceived after spotting huge discrepancies between the two," she said.

Sandy Li, Olga Wong, Brian Yap and Shirley Zhao

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