Surveyors and law firms gain from tighter rules

Tougher requirements on sales brochures and show flats bring new business to the two sectors

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 2:44am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 5:21am

The government’s tough revamp of the rules on home sales has seen transactions in the primary market virtually grind to a halt, but some sectors have found a silver lining in the cloud hanging over the real estate market.

Surveying and law firms have found new streams of business as developers rush to come up with marketing brochures that comply with the Residential Properties (First-hand Sales) Ordinance, which took effect on April 29.

A growing number of developers have hired independent surveying firms to verify the information in the brochures and examine show flats to make it clear they have taken “all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence” to avoid breaching the ordinance.

Charles Chan Chiu-kwok, managing director at Savills Valuation and Professional Services, said seven developers had given his firm such work and it needed to hire more surveyors to handle the new business.

Carol Chow, a partner at law firm Vincent T.K. Cheung, Yap & Co, said it was helping the developers of several property projects to comply with the new rules.

“We are quite busy as our clients [developers] want to proceed with sales as soon as possible once their marketing materials meet all the requirements,” she said.

The firm is now working with Lai Sun Development on the sales brochures for the Ocean One project in Yau Tong. 

“Some of our clients have projects that still have unsold units while planning to put other projects on sale later this year,” Chow said.

She did not reveal the identity of the firm’s other clients but said some jobs required an extra advisory fee.

Jenny Lee, a senior associate in Minter Ellison’s Hong Kong office, said lawyers could help ensure compliance, but the main input required for ensuring the accuracy of the information about the physical attributes of a development would come from those with detailed knowledge of such matters, such as building surveyors, architects and contractors.

There were other aspects of the ordinance where lawyers were well placed to advise developers, she said, such as requirements relating to the content to be included in sales brochures, meeting target dates for making brochures available to the public, requirements for price lists and other printed advertisements as well as sales arrangements.