How clients think is just as important as the sale, Knight Frank's Angel Law says

Head of new high-end residential section at Knight Frank says how the client thinks can be as important as the property itself

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 July, 2013, 3:37am

Estate agent Angel Law, who heads the new luxury residential department at property consultancy Knight Frank, believes knowledge of global property markets is essential for her team to survive in the local sector, which has been hit by the government's cooling measures.

"Similar to private bankers, we can give our clients a range of different advice," said Law, who joined the firm about three months ago as a senior director and head of residential sales and developments in Hong Kong.

Lau's team was set up when the local market took a downturn as a result of the series of tightening measures taken by the government, such as a doubling of stamp duty and the introduction of a buyer's stamp duty.

But the decision to establish such a department to strengthen sales in the super-prime market had been mulled for some time.

The department, which has a team of about eight, offers real estate consultancy to clients who are interested in buying high-end properties priced from HK$50 million.

"In the luxury market, it's more about clients' psychology than the property itself. If a buyer finds a property he or she really likes, and the seller is willing to sell, then very likely we can seal a deal irrespective of market conditions," said Law, who was head of luxury residential and investment sales at rival consultancy Savills prior to joining Knight Frank.

Currently, there was a limited supply of such properties on the market, she noted, as owners found transaction costs would be too high if they sold their properties now.

Since the government was unlikely to lift its controls over the market in the coming six months, luxury residential flat prices were likely to drop by about 5 per cent this year, said Law, who plans to beef up her team's global knowledge and mindset in response to the quiet local market.

"I once had a client from Canada who told me he wanted to buy a property in London without having any specific reason to do so. I found out that he actually wanted to return to Hong Kong in the long run and eventually he purchased a HK$100 million apartment here," she recalled. Having entered the real estate industry in 1995, Law has witnessed the ups and downs of the property market first-hand.

But her toughest and most memorable experience was in 2008, when the home market was ravaged by the global financial downturn.

"We were appointed as the sole agent for the tender of three to four properties priced at around HK$100 million to HK$200 million. I was worried whether we could find buyers and we were under a lot of pressure," she recalled.

"But eventually all the properties were sold, which strengthened my belief that there will always be buyers for quality properties no matter the condition of the market. Every property has its value."