误陷重围 / Ambushed Behind Enemy Lines

误陷重围
亲历深港边界售楼战

秋天,东北风给香港吹来了最佳的远足季节,夏日的闷热逐渐退去,取而代之的是干燥凉爽的天气。

香港新界——位于九龙半岛和深圳之间——的大部分地方早已从农村转型为高楼林立的现代社区。

但也有大片国家公园得益于地产开发禁令而侥幸留存,还有极少量的农业生产得到了恢复振兴,以满足市场对有机蔬菜的需求。在那里,新的交通设施纵横交错,大大改善了香港和深圳之间的物流情况,但也在当地孵化出立交桥、货柜车中转站、汽车修理厂等林林总总的设施。简而言之,有点儿像大杂烩,反差强烈。

离热闹的上水围不远,有一处静谧的绿色角落,名为塱原湿地。它位于两条小河交汇之处,形如半岛,树木丛生,还有小片农田散落其间。湿地上鸟类众多,花繁树茂,蝴蝶翩翩,非常适于远足,而且离罗湖边境只有一箭之遥。

与之形成强烈对比的是,就在这幽静一隅的河对岸,坐落着香港最大的屠宰场(那里声音嘈杂,建议动物爱好者不要前往)、一间污水处理厂、一座守备森严的监狱和封闭的边境线。虽然这里还算不上地道的田园风光,但比起旺角闹市还是要清静许多。

最近,我和太太计划周六上午开车去塱原远足探险,同时,因为我们还接到塱原附近一个新豪华楼盘发来的传单,于是决定合并一下——先去楼盘简单看看,再去徒步探险。

事后我们才发现,这个计划一点也不明智。在当今疯狂的房地产市场过热环境下,寻求心灵宁静和买房这两件事就好比是油和水,根本无法相融。

那天,我们从港岛家中驾车出发,穿过一路畅通的西区海底隧道,只用了大概40分钟就到了上水围。沿着写满楼盘法国名字的路标,转眼我们就直达目标,300多座联排别墅在路两边整齐排开。虽然天色尚早,但楼盘销售人员已经列队夹道欢迎,准备扑向一辆辆驶过的汽车。

战事一触即发。

我们在入口处停下,那里集结着几十名身着制服和便衣的地产战士。铁门边的警卫沉着脸问我们的来意,我们告诉他约好见面的地产中介的名字。他露出知道的表情,做了个手势,又用手机打了几个电话。几分钟过后,我们通过了安检,被“准许进入”,完成了首轮筛选。

接下来,我们在护卫的陪同下开车前往三个指定的停车场之一。这三个停车场分别由不同的授权地产中介使用,除此之外没有其他可以停车的地方。这样设计是为了强化三家地产中介对潜在买家的影响。

我们参观了面积为371.6平方米、带私家花园的联排别墅。房子的设计和施工情况都很好,以高标准完工,还附带高档家用电器和水电装置。可之后考虑到报价——几乎相当于1000万美元——大家就会期望别墅里要有一两个名牌马桶。

总之,这里的房价差不多等于已开盘一年的麦道夫棕榈滩豪宅的两倍,而且据我所知,那片海滩附近并没有屠宰场。

事态很快就越发复杂化了。地产中介甲正带着我们四处参观,刚好迎面碰上我以前买卖房产时结识的地产中介乙的经理。乙公司的人马上电召同事,说我们正在和他们的死对头厮混,责令同事即刻从40分钟以外的中环开车赶来。

我感觉这次修身养性的田间散步马上就要毁在两军对垒的地产尖兵手里了。

很快,我们就饥肠响如鼓,于是撤退到附近的街市。那里楼上有几家简易的餐馆,我们吃了一顿又便宜又好吃的“大排档”。

用餐快结束的时候,我抬头一望,发现餐馆外不只一个人、而是有两队地产斗士正在恭候我们。这下,我们成了两军合围的对象了。

他们到底是怎么找到我们的呢?也许那个皮肤黢黑的卖菜女人就是中介甲的间谍,而那个穿T恤卖五金杂货的秃顶老头没准儿就是中介乙雇来的眼线。再或者发给我们的楼书里藏着可以跟踪定位的微型芯片,以防止我们不买房就逃跑?

午饭后,我们别别扭扭地跟着两队竞争白热化的中介参观了部分在技术上还没有完全交工的新房。这些房子都还在开发商手里,而这正是他们认为最有利的报价时机——新的高档楼盘惯用这种伎俩来故意挑逗潜在客户的欲望(“哎呦,咱可千万不能错过这样千载难逢的好机会呦!”)

两拨中介都信誓旦旦地表示和开发商有内部联系,担保我们可以去开发商位于港岛的办公室面谈,机会难得,而且开发商的办公室可以全天候接待。

如此这般,“独享”和“内部渠道”的幻象就被巧妙地植入并逐步放大。我们还被告知,最好的户型都已经被开发商预留给有权有势的朋友,就连房价也被控制在“按需知密”的范围内。

终于,尴尬的参观结束了,我宣布要去干点儿正事:到乡下散步。

短兵相接的中介们一定是喝了什么自制的酷爱饮料,根本不相信我们只想沿着附近的村路简单散步。相反,他们揣测我们在耍心眼儿,想甩掉他们,或是打算摆脱中介乙的掌控,重投中介甲的怀抱。

所以,当我们沿村里的水泥小路往下走的时候,两股小分队就在身后尾随,寸步不离。

十分钟后,我觉得自己就像在吹魔笛,一直被人跟着,终于忍无可忍——但还是礼貌地——让他们走开。其中一队人很顺从地离开了,但另一拨人却仍然如影随形,还躲在树后盯梢,视线从没离开过我们的一举一动。一个多小时以后,我们往回走,他又打电话向上司报告。

散步结束了,我们就此告别那里,永远的告别。

Ambushed Behind Enemy Lines
Warring Factions Skirmish Near Shenzhen-Hong Kong Border

Autumn’s northeasterly winds bring the prime hiking season to Hong Kong, as the summer’s hot, humid weather gives way to drier, cooler days.

Most of Hong Kong’s New Territories — the area between Kowloon peninsula and Shenzhen — was transformed long ago from rural agricultural villages into a string of modern new high-rise communities.

There are still extensive country parks, which are fortunately off-limits to property developers, as well as a tiny but revitalized agriculture sector, flourishing in part because of demand for organic vegetables. New transport infrastructure criss-crosses the area, providing improved logistics links between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, but also spawning a patchwork of concrete clover leafs, container truck staging yards, and auto repair facilities. In short, it’s a bit of a hodgepodge, full of stark contrasts.

Near the bustling town of Sheung Shui is a quiet green corner called Long Valley, where small farm plots dot a wooded peninsula at the junction of two small rivers. Ideal for walking, it’s full of birds, trees, flowering shrubs and butterflies, and only a stone’s throw from the border crossing at Luo Hu.

As an example of stark contrasts, across the river from this scenic spot sits Hong Kong’s largest slaughterhouse (a very noisy place not recommended for animal lovers), a sewage processing plant, a high-security prison, and the border closed area. Not exactly an idyllic environment, but still quieter than downtown Mongkok.

My wife and I recently planned to spend a Saturday morning by driving out to the area around Long Valley and exploring it on foot. We had also received a direct mail flyer about a new luxury residential development near there, so we decided to combine the two — first making a brief visit to the property, and then embarking on our hiking adventure.

In hindsight, this was not a smart plan, because in today’s crazily overheated property market, peace of mind and property are like oil and water — they just don’t mix.

We drove from our home on Hong Kong island, through the uncrowded Western Harbor Tunnel, and arrived in Sheung Shui within about 40 minutes. We followed the roadside signs proclaiming the property’s French name, and — presto — we arrived at the development, 300-some townhouses in all, straddling both sides of the road. Even though it was still early, there were real estate sales people lining up along both sides of the road, ready to pounce on passing cars.

The military maneuvers were about to begin.

We stopped at the entrance, where dozens of uniformed and plain clothes real estate militia were assembled. A security guard at the metal gate inquired coolly about our intentions, and we mentioned the name of the real estate agent with whom we had an appointment. Knowing looks and hand signals followed. Mobile phone calls were made. A few minutes later, our security clearance was granted. We were “in”. Access granted. We’d passed the screen test.

Next step was to drive, with an escort, to one of the three designated parking areas, each operated by one of the competing real estate agencies authorized to sell the property. No other parking is available, by design, so the arrangement enhances the three real estate agencies’ leverage over prospective buyers.

We were shown townhouses in the 4,000 square foot size range, with private gardens. They were very nicely designed and constructed, and finished to a high standard, including top of the line appliances and plumbing fixtures. But then, considering the asking price, roughly equivalent to US$10 million, one might expect a nice toilet, or two.

This is, after all, nearly twice the price that Bernie Madoff’s Palm Beach getaway house sold for, after being on the market for one year; and as far as I know there are no slaughterhouses near that beach.

Things soon became more complicated. Property Agency “A” was showing us around, when we bumped into a manager we knew from a previous property transaction with Property Agency “B”. The man from “B” telephoned his colleague, alerted him to the fact that we were fraternizing with enemy forces, and summoned him to make the 40-minute drive from Central District at once.

I sensed our peaceful walk in the country was about to be hijacked by warring property militias.

Soon our stomachs were singing more loudly than the magpies, and we retreated to the nearby produce market, which has simple restaurants on its upstairs level. We had an inexpensive but very delicious “dai pai dong” meal.

As we were finishing our lunch, we looked up and saw, not one, but two groups of Property Agency militias awaiting us outside the restaurant where we were dining. We’d become the target of a pincer movement.

How did they find us? Perhaps the dark-skinned vegetable seller lady was a spy for Agency “A”, and the old bald T-shirted fellow selling hardware and sundry goods was a spy on the payroll of “B”. Or perhaps the property brochures we’d been given were implanted with microchips signaling our whereabouts in case we attempted to escape without buying.

What followed after lunch was a very awkward walk with two sets of fiercely competitive property agents, to inspect a part of the new development which was technically not on offer yet. These units were still being held by the developer, until such time as they felt that announcing prices would be in their best interest — a common ploy with new up-market developments intended to trigger anxiety attacks (“Oh gosh, let’s not miss out on this rare and wonderful opportunity!”) on the part of would-be buyers.

Both sales agents insisted they had the inside track with the developer and could secure us the rare and wonderful chance to negotiate in the developer’s office back on Hong Kong Island, which is open all hours of the day and night.

The illusion of exclusive, inside access is thus cleverly planted, and, step-by-step, amplified. We were told that prime units had already been reserved for high-powered friends of the developer, with pricing on a “need to know” basis only.

Finally, after our awkward tour, I announced that the time had come for us to return to our core mission: to talk a leisurely walk in the countryside.

The skirmishing agents must have been drinking their own kool-aid. Unable to believe we were really going to go for a simple walk along a nearby village trail, they assumed instead that we were engaging in a clever ploy to throw them off the scent, or to escape the clutches of “B” and return to the arms of “A”.

So, as we set off down the little concrete village path, both sets of militia followed us, hovering right behind us.

Ten minutes later, feeling like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, I was on the verge of losing my cool, and — still politely — asked both to leave us alone. One very kindly heeded my request, but the other continued to shadow us, lurking behind trees and shrubs, never losing sight of our movements, clutching his mobile phone and reporting back to his superior as we headed back an hour or so later.

After the walk, we said farewell, and meant it.


更多



阅读数 28,775 / 28,775 views



发表评论

电子邮件地址不会被公开。 必填项已用*标注

:wink: :-| :-x :twisted: :) 8-O :( :roll: :-P :oops: :-o :mrgreen: :lol: :idea: :-D :evil: :cry: 8) :arrow: :-? :?: :!: