再说房地产那些事儿 / More Tales from the Property Front

再说房地产那些事儿

投资房地产的六大要素:

1. 地段
2. 地段
3. 地段
4. 面条
5. 米饭
6. 饺子

上周我在博客中写到,最近内地和香港楼市出现的极端过热现象已经变成了聊天话题,在大多数社交场合,人们都会谈论到它。

尽管对市场未来的趋势和走向看法不一,但大家似乎都一致认为,市场的表现总体过热,其中尤以高端市场为甚。

我告诉一位刚退休的美国朋友,我去新界最北边看了千万美元的豪宅。虽然到最近为止,他已经在香港住了小20年,但听闻此言仍然大吃一惊。他目前定居在加州洛杉矶南部的一座小城——新港滩。他说在新港滩,一千万美元足够买上三座临海豪宅,而且还都是带私人码头的那种。更不消说在马多夫棕榈滩也够买上两处滨水豪宅的。

我相信在中国和香港投资房地产是长期可行的。八十年代初,我不顾大多数外国友人的忠告,首次在香港置业。当时他们都认为香港的房价太高,还提醒我如果在芝加哥或是西雅图,花同样的钱可以买到一座宫殿。但我的头脑比较简单,认为这是一种不切实际的比较,因为最起码我不住在芝加哥或者西雅图,而且短期内也没有搬到那儿的打算。

俗话说的好,投资房地产最重要的三个因素就是:地段、地段、还是地段。这个原则放之四海皆准,而且亘古不变。然而,我发现还有另外三个要素值得考虑,那就是:面条、米饭和饺子。

环顾全球,那些长期表现出众的房地产市场似乎都与繁荣的华人社区有着密切的关联。无论身在何处,华人消费者总是对投资房地产情有独钟,而且还喜欢在中华美食荟萃的地方扎堆儿。房产和美食的高度吸引力就好像部分软件编码一样,被编进了遗传基因,不断运行,代代相传。如果把“地段”与“好的中国餐馆和旺铺周边的华人社区”这两个因素结合起来,你的房地产投资绝对不会错到哪儿去。至少这个原则对我十分适用。

有别于医疗、药品和烟草,房地产广告的发布及内容在内地和香港都没有严格的限制规定。因此,消费者要保持一定的戒心,做好全面调查的准备,才能洞悉大批新楼盘广告特有的 “曲力场”(时空穿越技术)。

就拿上周我提到的上水围楼盘为例,项目广告称楼盘旁有条美丽的小河流过,听起来相当地诱人,尤其是在拥挤不堪的香港。

可实地一看,我才发现河水的颜色都快赶上星巴克咖啡了。河岸上还围着铁篱,挂着不准靠近的警示牌,并注明该河归香港排水服务部管辖。说难听点儿,这条河与其说是涓涓溪水,倒不如说是条排水沟。毫无疑问,这里肯定也是蚊虫滋生的好地方,可广告却让人看得心驰神往。

几年前,香港薄扶林的一个豪宅项目也在广告中展示了楼盘前美丽的海滩。但事实上,放眼四望,海边只有林立的礁石,根本就没有一片沙滩。

最近我在北京参加了一次晚宴,席间一位中国朋友说起他参观过的一处郊区豪宅。那座房子虽然很大,外观也很奇特,但他却注意到三处奇怪的设计,于是就向房产中介打听。

他首先问,为什么房前的木门做得又大又沉,必须用两只手才能推开?

中介回答说,能买得起这样房子的人都希望大门要用双手才能推开,这样才能显出房子的恢弘气势。

第二,他看见厨房非常小,就问为什么这么大的房子却只有这么小的厨房?

中介回答说,能买得起这样房子的人大多数情况下都会去五星级酒店或是私人会所解决一日三餐,他们是不会浪费时间在家里做饭吃的。

第三,他看到主卧室,就问为什么没有步入式衣柜?

中介又答到,能买得起这样房子的人都有好多处房产,他们主要是用这里办宴会、开派对,所以衣柜并不紧要。

说起这种房地产开发商擅长制造的“曲力场”,各位只能牢记“投资有风险,购买需谨慎”啦!

More Tales from the Property Front

The Six Key Factors to Consider When Investing in Property:

1. Location
2. Location
3. Location
4. Noodles
5. Rice
6. Dumplings

As I wrote in last week’s post, the wildly overheated residential property markets in Hong Kong and China of late is a conversational topic at almost every social gathering these days.

Although opinions differ widely on the markets’ future prospects and directions, there seems to be unanimity of the view that they are in general wildly overheated, especially in the luxury end of the market.

When I told a recently retired American friend of mine about the US$10 million townhouses we toured in the northernmost part of Hong Kong’s New Territories, he was astounded, even though he’d lived in Hong Kong until recently for nearly 20 years. He now lives in Newport Beach, California, a very tony town south of Los Angeles, and said that for that amount of money you could purchase 3 very nice waterfront homes in Newport Beach, each with a private boat dock. Not to mention two of Bernie Madoff’s Palm Beach waterfront getaway homes.

I am a believer in the long-term viability of real estate investment in Hong Kong and China. I first purchased a home in Hong Kong in the early ‘80s, against the best advice of most of my foreign friends here. They felt prices were too high and reminded me of the palatial properties that the same amount of money would buy in Chicago or Seattle. Being simple-minded, I thought that somewhat of an irrelevant comparison, for the simple reason that I was not living in Chicago or Seattle, nor was I planning to at any time soon.

There is an old saying that the three most important factors to consider when evaluating a property investment are location, location and location. This is a kind of universal principle, and it still holds true anywhere. However, I’ve come to realize there is another set of three important factors to consider: noodles, rice and dumplings.

If you look around the world at property markets which outperform. others over time, there seems to be a close correlation with thriving Chinese communities. Chinese consumers anywhere are great believers in property investment, and they tend to congregate where there is good Chinese food. The high appeal of property and food seem to be genetically encoded, like a part of the operating software. If you correlate the “location” factor with the “thriving Chinese community centered around good Chinese restaurants and produce” factor, you won’t go far wrong in property investing. At least it’s worked for me.

Unlike health care, pharmaceuticals, and tobacco, property advertising in China and Hong Kong is not governed by strict regulations on claims and content. As a result, consumers need to be a bit cynical and prepared to do thorough due diligence in order to penetrate the “reality distortion field” which typifies a lot of advertising for new property developments.

As an example relating to the property in Sheung Shui which I wrote about last week, the advertising for this place depicts a lovely river running alongside the development. That’s very attractive, especially in a densely crowded urban setting like Hong Kong.

On closer inspection, however, I found the river to be Starbucks-colored, surrounded by metal fences blocking access to its banks, with signs along the banks warning people to stay away and proclaiming it to be under the jurisdiction of the Hong Kong Drainage Services Department. In other words, a drainage ditch rather than idyllic rural stream. No doubt it’s also a prime breeding grounds for mosquitos, but it sure looks inviting in the ads.

Some years another big new Hong Kong luxury development on the waterfront in the Pokfulam area was advertised showing beautiful beaches in front of it. The reality is a rocky shoreline with no beaches anywhere in sight.

Recently at a dinner in Beijing, a Chinese friend told of viewing a new luxury housing development in the suburbs there. The houses were large and fancy looking, but he noticed three odd design features which he asked the real estate agent about.

First, he asked, why is the wooden front door to the house so huge and heavy that it takes both hands to open it?

The agent responded that the kind of people who can afford such a house want a front door which takes a two-handed effort to open, as a demonstration of the grandness of the place.

Second, on seeing the very small kitchen, he asked why such a large house was designed with such a tiny kitchen.

The agent responded that the kind of people who can afford such a house eat most of their meals in 5-star hotels and exclusive private clubs, and don’t waste much time on cooking at home.

Third, on viewing the master bedroom, he asked why there were no built-in closets.

The agent responded that the kind of people who can afford such a house already own many other houses, and would use this place mainly for entertaining, parties, etc., so clothes storage is not a priority for them.

Talk about the reality distortion fields which property developers excel at. Caveat emptor!


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