Electronic king says apartment overlooking the cemetery has the best view in HK
Comfort should be the main consideration while buying high-end property in the city, according to tycoon Koo
Nam Tai Property chairman Koo Ming-kown, 72, known as the “electronic king” in Hong Kong, is a manufacturer turned property tycoon. Buying property was not something that Koo did actively until he purchased his first home in Hong Kong four years ago.
And that is where Koo differed from the rest of his peers. Instead of opting for fancy or pricey property Koo opted for a deluxe apartment that faces a cemetery, which in his words offers a spectacular view. Koo spoke to South China Morning Post at his home in Chantilly, 6 Shiu Fai Terrace, in Mid-Levels East and shared his views on China’s property market.
Why did you purchase your own home in Hong Kong only recently?
I migrated to Canada in the mid 1980s and bought an 8,000 sq foot house there that was very comfortable. When I moved back to Hong Kong in the late 1990s, property prices in the city were very high. Rather than buy a new property, I decided to rent a service apartment at The Peak, which I thought was very convenient.
Four years back, the owners of the service apartment decided to rebuild the property and I was given six months to find an alternate accommodation. That was when I chanced upon the property at Chantilly which in my opinion offers an unparalleled view. I wanted to rent the property, but the developer K Wah International was only willing to sell it.
So I ended up buying the 3,650 sq feet flat, which has five rooms and a very nice kitchen. I only needed to do minimum renovation and could move in. I was one of the first apartment buyers in the building and practically the first tenants to move in.
Are you not bothered by the direct view of the Wanchai cemetery?
Not at all. I have lived here for more than three years and I feel very comfortable here.
In fact, I find it beautiful as there are no obstructions to the view. In Hong Kong, the view from many luxury apartments is blocked by other high-rise buildings. I do not think the cemetery will be moved that easily and I will have my view for a long time. The building also has an excellent view of the beautiful racing track in Happy Valley.
But what I really like about the Chantilly is that it has the looks and feel of a luxury hotel. It also has an excellent facility management team that can provide all kinds of associated services for tenants. It also has a tall ceiling (335 cm) which suits me as I am pretty tall, at about 180 cm.
Have you made a windfall from your first property purchase in Hong Kong?
I bought the apartment for about HK$94.59 million in 2012. Some say the property now worth more than HK$100 million. I do not think too much about what the prices are right now as I bought the apartment as my home and not for investment purpose.
In your opinion, what are the key considerations to buy a property?
Comfort should be the most important factor while buying a property for your own use. I like my apartment, which is spacious and has five rooms that can be used for various purposes. I use one of the rooms for my wine collection while the other rooms are used as a library, gymnasium and a walk in wardrobe. There are club house in the building where there are swimming pools and dinning areas where we can order food.
For those who buy property for investment purpose, I think location is important. The location of Chantilly is also very good as it is close to many famous schools, which would be attractive to a family that has children.
Your company is going to benefit from a surge in land values in Shenzhen, particularly the plots that house your manufacturing units . Do you think other manufacturers should also shore up their land banks?
We had to buy the property for our factory as we needed a special layout design for our machines and production lines. Like me there are some other manufacturers also who brought property on the mainland. But the land value is determined by the location of the property. I never thought I would earn more from the property than from my manufacturing business. But that is the case now. I hope that the redevelopment plan we have suggested would bring more benefits to shareholders.