Minefield for would-be purchasers

PROSPECTIVE flat buyers today confront a daunting minefield of mis-description and exaggeration.

In many cases, it is a mission to obscure the facts.

The most common complaint, of course, is gross floor area.

Consumer Council chief executive Pamela Chan Wong Shui last night cited one brazen case where the flat represented only 44 per cent of the space originally advertised.

Mrs Wong said the Consumer Council instigated an investigation two years ago into the widespread practice of not properly stating the dimensions and substance of uncompleted flats.

The results were staggering. Many of the artists' impressions of spacious living rooms with comfortable sofas and eight-chair dining tables were far from the truth.

In one example, the drawing in a sales brochure showed a double bed, a side table and a wardrobe in the main bedroom.

When completed, the bedroom was only about three metres square - inadequate even for a standard double bed.

It has also been common practice to include the external common features like air-conditioning rooms, foyers and car park stairwells in the calculation of each flats' floor-space.

It is proposed that purchasers be given an automatic right to withdraw from the sale if the saleable area differs by five per cent or more from that initially advertised.