香港楼市乱象丛生 / Hong Kong’s Wild and Woolly Property Market

香港楼市乱象丛生

这几个月,香港过热的住宅市场有所降温,也没有很快抬头的迹象,但商用地产市场依然火爆,长盛不衰。

造成这种现象的原因是既有及新兴企业对房地产的需求量增加,但市场投放却相对有限。因此,大多数人都预测未来房价将持续走高,尤以核心区为甚。而在租赁市场,香港、内地以及海外企业的需求则表现得较为均衡。

很明显,目前市场已经进入了重组阶段,正向新兴的东九龙高档地段及其他曾被认为偏远或低品质的地段大举扩张。

一般情况下,交通改善会显著提高某一地区的吸引力,随之而来的就是房价和租金水涨船高。例如,新建的港铁西港岛线就给西环及周边地区的市容市貌和人口构成带来了极大的改变;即将竣工的中环至北角绕道工程也将使两地之间的车程大幅缩减至5分钟。

在一片喧闹之中,我们公司办公室的房东也向全体租户发出了限期六个月搬离的通知,原因是他们计划要改建高档公寓。这是十年间我第二次遭遇同样的命运,上一次是业主要把办公楼改成饭店。

两次搬家的共同点是,根据香港标准的租房合同,业主只要提前六个月通知租户,就可以终止租赁协议,无需支付任何赔偿。这对租户来说可不是闹着玩儿,但在乱象丛生的香港楼市,现行的法律就是如此。

在飘飘然的香港楼市,这种情况司空见惯,就如同花巨资购买的海景房突然被眼前冒出的大厦挡住了视线,有时这些大厦的建设用地甚至来自于回填码头。

面对六个月限期搬离的通知,我们紧锣密鼓地开始在几个选定区域搜集办公大厦的资料。

其间,我们制作了一份地图,把本地员工的住址做了标注,以此作为寻找新办公地点的依据。虽然不可能做到人人满意,但这种努力还是得到了员工的一致好评。

经过海选、淘汰、入围程序,范围也从地区缩小到楼宇,最终我们进入了实地考察阶段。

我们将目标锁定在港岛北部西环至鲗鱼涌之间的几栋办公楼。每次我们都会和业主或者业主代表简单会晤,然后再实地考察设施的状况。

从早晨9:30与第一家会面考察开始,直到下午5:30最后一家结束,当天我们总共看了14间大厦。

这其实算不上什么,除非你停下来扪心自问,假如不是在香港,这世上难道还有其他地方能让你在8个小时内看完14间大厦吗(其中还包括一小时的午餐时间)?

我肯定会回答说:绝对没有。

这就是为什么很多人一旦习惯了香港的高效率,就会发现其他城市在这方面与香港相比,只能望其项背。

Hong Kong’s Wild and Woolly Property Market

Although Hong Kong’s super-heated residential property market has cooled in recent months and shows no signs of ramping up again soon, the commercial market is still fairly hot and looks likely to remain so.

This is being driven by continued demand for new and additional premises, both from companies already here as well as those coming into the market. There is a very limited amount of new space in the pipeline, so most forecasters see a continued robust trend in prices, especially in core areas. Demand for rental premises seems reasonably well balanced from Hong Kong, mainland, and international companies.

There is clearly a restructuring of the market underway, with tremendous expansion into newly emerging higher quality areas in Kowloon East and other areas once considered remote or lower grade.

As usual, improved transport links have a tremendous impact on which districts are considered attractive, and in turn, sale and rental prices. The new MTR link into Hong Kong Island’s westside district of Saiwan, for example, is effectively causing big changes in the composition and demographics of adjacent neighborhoods; and the soon-to-be-completed Central to North Point road link is slated to reduce average driving time between those districts dramatically, to about five minutes.

Amidst all this to-ing and fro-ing, our office landlord gave all tenants in the building six months’ notice to vacate, due to their plan to redevelop the premises into a high-end apartment block. This is the second time in roughly ten years that the same fate has befallen us. Last time it was redevelopment of an office block into a hotel.

In both instances, standard commercial leases in Hong Kong give the landlord the right to terminate tenancy agreements with six months’ notice, without compensation. Not much fun for tenants, but this is the law of the property jungle in Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong’s heady property market, you get used to stuff like this, just as you get used to your lovely sea view, for which you paid a premium, being blocked by a new building(s) erected just in front of it, sometimes on land reclaimed from the harbor.

Faced with six months’ notice, we switched into high gear and began collecting data about premises in various buildings in selected districts we were considering for our relocation.

As part of the process, we assembled a map showing which districts our locally based staff currently live in, to help guide us in selecting the location of our new office. It’s impossible to please everyone, but the effort to choose the best possible location is generally appreciated by all staff.

After some winnowing, sorting, and short-listing, first of districts, and then of buildings, it was time to start inspecting potential new premises.

Our goal was to look at premises in a variety of buildings in various neighborhoods on the north side of Hong Kong Island, between Sai Wan and Quarry Bay. In each case, that involved a brief meeting with the landlord or their representative, followed by a tour of the premises, inspection of the facilities, etc.

Our first meeting and building tour was at 9:30 am. We concluded the last inspection of the day at 5:30 pm. All in all, we visited and inspected 14 buildings.

That’s no big deal, unless you stop and ask yourself if it’s possible to complete 14 initial premises inspections in a variety of neighborhoods within an 8-hour period (including a one hour lunch break) in any other city around the world other than Hong Kong.

I would maintain the answer is: no way.

It’s no wonder you meet a lot of people who, once they get used to Hong Kong’s level of efficiency, find that most other cities lag far behind.


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