• Fri
  • Oct 24, 2014
  • Updated: 9:11pm
PropertyHong Kong & China

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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This article is now closed to comments

OC2S
Not sure what the big issue is here ... apparently and in spite of the editorializing by the SCMP there were 1200 people that went into the ballot that are willing to buy them. If people are willing to buy site unseen then be it on their own head.
As for the journalism above where the authors are quoting a "potential" buyer who expressed an opinion of a "friend" who "felt" deceived - really???? Come on surely the SCMP must be able to do better than this - that is completely meaningless and presents a bias in the reporting (whether or not it was intended).
epicentre
Legality is a weak argument. The law essentially shows the boundary to what is absolutely unacceptable by society. Just because the law does not force developers to allow viewing of flats does not make it right not to do it.
The law also does not state that I shall give a birthday present to my loved one. But I do - even though the law does not force me. It's called ethical practice and respect!
I challenge the leaders of property developers to not give their wives birthday presents this year! After all, it's not in the law. See what happens!!
zvichadashote
Anyone interested in buying a prison cell sized flat for HKD two million, in the New Territories (not on the peak), please give me a call! The equivalent is US$250,000 which can get you around 250 sqm in Las Vegas or 12 million pesos which will get you a nice condo and 3 maids plus change in the Philippines.
kctony
While you are at it, why not Houston, TX? For the same amount you can get a 400sqm castle like house and a backyard large enough to put a short par-3 hole.
oxymoron16
Nowadays developers (or particularly this developer ?) are ruthless and without mercy all in the name of exploiting the needy. Why would anyone sell a claustrophobic flat at outrageous prices and more demented why would anyone want to pay for it? Why not go with older age buildings with more breathing room ? Are people turning to masochists or the simple fact the notion of owning a NEW flat is too tempting to ignore ?
I don't believe in karma but someone is eventually going to reap what they sow.
kctony
Why would any body go see a flat built by Cheung Kong?
I never did.
Carparklee
"It did not big the law" that's the best you have, Cheungkong? Do you value your supposed to be well admired brand name? I heard people use this 'it did not break the law!' phrase the most often are the hawkers in the street or gangs (古惑仔) confronting policeman interrogation. How come a real estate giant got degenerated to something like that. Unbelievable.
Dao-Phooy
Disgusting! How long did it take Cheung Kong to find the loopholes in the new legislation? How could the Buildings Department let this through? One thing remains - Mr Li you can't take all that wealth with you no matter how philanthropic you consider yourself to be.
iluvmycity
Wah so cheap! Thank you LKS. I've always wanted to see what it would be like to live in prison. Now I can spend my life savings to know the feeling. Oh wait prices start from 1.94M. Hmmm........best get in there soon.
impala
So you pay 10,000 per square foot for a cell-size flat at the end of the road in the most remote corner of Tai Po. You get a kitchen without room for a stove (useless...), and you're lucky if you can fit a bed in your flat without blocking any doorways.

And to top it all up, you then have a tomb right in front of your window.

What was it again with Li Ka-Shing not being able to sleep at night because he worried so much about the people of Hong Kong? What a joke. The only thing that keeps the man up at night is thinking about new conniving ways to extract more money from people.

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