Skyrocketing home prices in Hong Kong is well known and has made headlines in local or even international newspapers. For foreigners planning to move to Hong Kong for whatever reasons, they should be prepared to fork out big bucks on renting or buying a residential property. Careful consideration is therefore warranted. This begs the question: How should we identify a real estate agent to work for you? This articles will discuss a few things to consider when you hire someone to find the perfect home for you in Hong Kong.
Types of housing in Hong Kong
Finding a home in Hong Kong can take weeks, sometimes months. So you should start preparing as soon as you have decided to relocate. Give yourself more time to get familiar with the basic facts of the housing market in Hong Kong is the first step to securing the perfect home. Generally speaking, housing in Hong Kong can be classified into a three main categories: modern residential buildings, “tong lau” (old tenement buildings) and village houses. Modern residential buildings can be found in almost every part of Hong Kong and the rents are usually higher than the other two types. “Tong lau” are two to three-story tall Chinese buildings that are usually decades old and without lifts. Village houses, as the name suggests, are mostly found in suburban areas.
Should I hire individual agent or large agency?
After deciding on the type of property you prefer, you may start contacting local real estate agency to start the search. Basically, each real estate agency specializes in the property market of the district they are situated. If you haven’t decided on a specific area, it is advisable to go with large real estate agency given their large franchise network. Moreover, large real estate agencies usually have varied portfolio and might be able to provide you with more choices. Also, customers can somehow rely on the reputation that comes with their brand names.
But if you already have a specific district in mind, then individual local agents who have spent years building up relationships with landlords in the district may work well for you too. In some cases, they can negotiate more effectively given their direct contact with the landlords.
Tips on rental negotiation
When negotiating the rent on a home, you can make good use of online resources such as real estate portals to know the market rates so that you will be more confident when making an appropriate counter offer. Also, check the history of the apartment and the building. The older the building, the lower the rent and landlords tend to be more amenable to negotiation. You can also check online if the apartment of your choice is haunted so that you won’t end up living in one, or, conversely, rent the place at half the market rate if you don’t mind that it is haunted.
Make the landlord believes that you have other choices other than the one he puts up for lease. At the same time, prove yourself to be a good tenant who will pay on time. This will give you the upper hand in negotiation.
Timing is important when you negotiate for a home in Hong Kong, as supply is limited and often good apartments will be taken at a flash. Set a range of acceptable level of rent. When the landlord offers you an amount within/near your range, start showing more interest and ask your agent to make a sensible counter offer. You will feel the pace of negotiation picks up at this stage. Strike the deal when you think the offer is good and the price right for you.