Experienced eye guides moves to super-deluxe

Vivien Chan gives in to temptation with her HK$538m Peak purchase, and as Estate Agents Authority chief, she is a knowledgeable buyer

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 February, 2014, 5:18am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 February, 2014, 5:18am

Vivien Chan, the chairwoman of the Estate Agents Authority (EAA), cannot resist the temptation of a super-deluxe home.

Her property investment took the spotlight after she bought a spacious house on The Peak. Chan, who is also a lawyer, purchased House No3 at 28 Barker Road last November for HK$538 million. The price tag for the 5,706 square foot house with a 752 sq ft garden and two parking spaces came to HK$94,287 per square foot.

"The new house will be for my own use. As I am approaching retirement age, I'm planning to have my own organic farm in the garden in future," Chan said at the EAA's Lunar New Year media lunch yesterday. "My son will live with us after his university graduation in the United States," said Chan, who bought the house under her name so she does not get hit with double stamp duties.

Since February 28 last year, all properties worth more than HK$2 million bought by corporate names are charged double stamp duty. Chan could save up to HK$45 million in taxes. The house will be turned over by the end of this month.

For the past three years, Chan has invested more than HK$1.5 billion in luxury homes. In 2011, she bought a house at Shouson Peak for HK$280 million and paid HK$720 million for a house on 20 Peak Road in 2010 that could be redeveloped.

"I'm not a speculator and I bought them and will lease them through my property investment company," she said.

Chan, who has been EAA chairwoman for five years, is determined to tighten regulations on the sale of new homes. Last year, the regulator conducted 1,475 checks at new projects, up 45 per cent year on year.

She believes home prices at traditional luxury residential locations such as Repulse Bay, Island South and Kowloon Station would be resilient as they are still sought by mainland buyers.

Her purchase was made a week after House No8, a 6,863 sq ft property also at 28 Barker Road, was sold to a mainland lawyer, Li Shufeng, the chairman of Greater China practice at US law firm Paul Hastings, for HK$740 million. At HK$107,825 per square foot, the purchase marked the second highest price per square foot paid for a home in Hong Kong.

Chan is a senior partner at Vivien Chan & Co, and has more than 30 years' experience in everything from labour to mergers and acquisitions and related tax issues.

She bought her first property, a house in London's Chelsea for about £250,000 several decades ago and sold it after about four years as she had no time to manage it. "At the time, my tenant asked to change the washing machine twice in a couple of years. It brought me such trouble I decided to sell it after a 20 per cent capital appreciation," she said.

Chan started to expand into real estate in 2005 when she founded VCC Land, which runs high-end serviced apartments under the brand name V. The first V was at 68 Sing Woo Road in Happy Valley. Today, V operates more than 300 apartments in Wan Chai and Causeway Bay.

"I don't agree owning a property means … a big achievement. I did not purchase my first property until reaching 30, " she said.