Hong Kong people’s enthusiasm for purchasing properties outside Hong Kong is still strong. However, purchasing undeveloped properties abroad incurs more risks and uncertainties than purchasing completed properties which are ready for inspection. The Estate Agents Authority (“EAA”) recently issued a series of new guidelines to licensed estate agents on 28 December 2023, aiming to provide consumers with better protection and build consumer confidence in engaging licensed estate agents when purchasing uncompleted properties situated outside Hong Kong (“UPOH”). The new guidelines will come into effect on 1 July 2024.
In this regard, I would like to share my advice with consumers who are interested in purchasing UPOH. First, please consider engaging licensed estate agents to purchase UPOH instead of unlicensed persons. Licensed estate agents are regulated by the EAA and must comply with the guidelines issued by the EAA. The guidelines on the sale of UPOH issued by the EAA that licensed estate agents must follow are comprehensive and ensure that purchasers will receive more accurate property information. Non-compliance of the guidelines by licensed agents can result in disciplinary actions by the EAA.
In addition, the guidelines also cover certain requirements on the promotional materials for the UPOH issued by licensed estate agents. To help consumers easily identify whether the advertisements and promotional materials are issued by licensed estate agents, the promotional materials must include a bilingual warning “To buy or not to buy non-local off-plan properties? Assess the risks before you buy! 境外樓花買唔買？計過風險先好買！” stipulated by the EAA. Moreover, the number of the estate agent’s licence must be clearly displayed on the printed advertisements and promotional materials, so as to enable consumers to easily identify whether the advertisements and promotional materials are issued by licensed estate agents.
Having said that, consumers must still think twice before making any decision or payment for the purchase of UPOH. Even if licensed estate agents have followed the EAA’s guidelines thoroughly, there is still no guarantee on whether the UPOH can be completed on time or as planned. Consumers should also bear in mind that the situation of non-local developers and the property market outside Hong Kong are different from that in Hong Kong. For safety’s sake, consumers may consider purchasing completed properties outside Hong Kong instead of the uncompleted ones.
For more information, consumers are also recommended to click here to read the information provided by the EAA.