As the first-hand residential property market in Hong Kong has reached new heights in recent years, it is more than ever in the public spotlight. Therefore, I would like to remind prospective purchasers of some important points-to-note when appointing estate agents to purchase first-hand residential properties.
Firstly, let’s talk about visiting first-sale sites. According to the guidelines issued by the Estate Agents Authority (“EAA”), all licensed staff of estate agency companies deployed to first-sale sites must wear an estate agent card and/or a staff card, while all other non-licensed staff should wear name tags showing prominently the words’ “non-licensed staff”. The purpose is to distinguish those that are licensed to carry out estate agency work from those that are not. Prospective purchasers should note that non-licensed persons must not conduct estate agency work, such as accompanying prospective purchasers to visit show flats or answering their queries or offering information about the development in any way. Hence, in choosing an estate agent, prospective purchasers should check the identity of the person they engage and ensure that he or she is a licensed person qualified to offer you estate agency services, for licensed estate agents are regulated by the EAA and must comply with the Estate Agents Ordinance and the EAA’s guidelines, which provide consumers with better protection.
Secondly, there are points to note before making any decision to purchase. Vendors or estate agents may offer incentives or rebates to purchasers. According to the EAA guidelines, if any incentives or rebates are offered or promised by estate agents to prospective purchasers they must be set out in writing, including any gifts or discounts, and the terms and format of the incentives or rebates must be clearly stipulated. To protect their own interests, prospective purchasers are advised to make sure that they have their own copy of the details of any incentives or rebates offered by estate agents and enquire whether any pre-condition has to be fulfilled before a promise of incentive or rebate will be honoured.
Prospective purchasers may want to submit more than one registration of intent for a better chance in the balloting session but they may not have sufficient money for the deposit payment on the spot. In this case, prospective purchasers are reminded not to accept any loans from estate agents because according to the EAA guidelines, estate agents are not allowed to offer or make loans to prospective purchasers when promoting first-sale units. Prospective purchasers are advised to consider thoroughly their own finances before making any purchase decision.
There is more for consumers to consider on this subject. The EAA has recently produced a new consumer education booklet titled “Be a Smart Purchaser of First-hand Property”. I strongly advise consumers to read this booklet to learn more (click here to read).
Chief Executive Officer
Estate Agents Authority