A big crowd turned out to view off-site show flats for Cheung Kong's cut-price Mont Vert development yesterday despite concern in some quarters that the sales tactics of the developer are questionable.
Long queues formed at the Fortune Metropolis mall in Hung Hom, where Cheung Kong, controlled by Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing, is marketing the Tai Po development. By Friday, over 1,200 applications had been received for balloting to buy the 260 Phase 1 flats for sale, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reported. Sales begin on July 26.
Whether the firm violated the law in not allowing prospective buyers to see the flats seemed to have had little effect on people's desire to buy, said Lawrence Poon, a City University senior lecturer in building science and technology.
The development includes some of Hong Kong's cheapest new flats, with a 194 sq ft studio selling for about HK$1.94 million.
People could still buy flats there, but that was a separate matter from whether Cheung Kong broke the law, said Poon.
Cheung Kong may have violated the Residential Properties (First-hand Sales) Ordinance, said Poon. The law requires developers to make every home at a completed new development available for viewing.
Cheung Kong can avoid violating the law by demonstrating that it was not practical to allow prospective buyers to view the flats, in which case it would be required to obtain prospective buyers' written consent to buy the flats without seeing them.
Cheung Kong executives said yesterday it was not feasible to let people in for viewing, as there was only a one-way road connecting the site and Phase 2 construction was ongoing, making it unsafe.
"It may not be safe to see the development, but that is not a good defence," Poon said, adding that it was within Cheung Kong's control to enable prospective buyers to view the Phase 1 flats because the company could have halted construction or delayed the sales programme.
Cheung Kong had not had notification from the Hong Kong government that the company had done anything illegal over the project, said Cheung Kong executive director Justin Chiu Kwok-hung. "The government didn't say we did anything illegal. The government said we were not perfect," he said.
Additional reporting by Sandy Li