If looking at data and statistics and listening to the experts sound off on where the property market is heading in 2014 gets to feel a little overwhelming, perhaps a little too scientific, there are always alternatives. In the same way not everyone puts all their eggs in the pharmaceutical basket when they get a cold, there is always a feng shui perspective to draw from for the Year of the Horse.
At the most basic level, applying feng shui principles to purchasing a home or property include its location and placement (positive surroundings, good backing like mountains), a good, energy-welcoming front door and main entryway and a strong layout and room positioning — one of the trickiest to find in Hong Kong. None of these are all that exotic: everyone, guided by feng shui or otherwise, is looking for a nice location and an efficient layout.
For the uninitiated, feng shui — literally wind and water — is the incorporation of one’s surrounding environment into one’s life to encourage positive qi, and it can be as complicated or simple as personal taste dictates. With our collective environments increasingly complex (fewer mountains, less water, more unwieldy towers), finding that home that doesn’t have a straight road facing it or faces a wide-open space across the street is difficult at best. But some feng shui tenets are still applicable.
The year officially begins on February 4, and as forecast by feng shui master Philip Wong Lap Dei, it’s going to be an active one to say the least. First and foremost, the key word to bear in mind in relation to all finances is caution. Wong predicts a fair amount of potential but warns that any potential will rely on diversity, including real estate.
Overall, the Year of the Horse should be a fairly strong one. “Despite market conditions, the Year of Horse is a good year to purchase property. In the first half of the year, it is the sellers who will have the upper hand when it comes to negotiations,” theorises Wong. “In the latter half buyers will have the upper hand … and sellers are likely to give room for discounts.”
From a feng shui perspective, property and property investments are earth elements and the fourth, fifth and sixth lunar months — roughly April to June — are ruled by fire elements that will be an advantage to vendors. Wong also expects prices to remain high and volume to remain relatively low. For the most part, that’s in line with some of the city’s premier agencies. “The Hong Kong residential market has turned and entered a downward phase,” begins Thomas Lam, Knight Frank’s director and head of research and consultancy, Greater China. “Residential prices will decline in the coming few years, but significant corrections are not expected amid a low mortgage rate environment.”
Wong has his eye on a few dates that should prove smart bets for purchasers — specifically the winter months beginning in late November (the tenth lunar month), when, “Water Elements come into the picture. By then, the market will be active once again,” says Wong.
Timing is Everything
As has been well documented, property investment success depends on three things: location, location and location. So-called lucky monetary stars for this Horse Year will sit opposite each other in the north and the south. Wong sees these two directions as desirable when it comes to investments. Wanchai, North Point, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hung Hom, Sheung Shui and Kwun Tong all boast properties situated relative to those directions and so are ideal districts to investigate. North Point, Hung Hom and Sheung Shui are traditionally strong spots for local buyers with end-user goals, but Wanchai, TST and increasingly Kwun Tong are stable or up-and-coming locations with strong rental demand.
Ultimately, good feng shui or otherwise, any investment will come down to careful planning, solid advice from both real estate professionals and feng shui experts alike, and how it performs will be determined by how strong your stomach is for risk. As the old Chinese saying goes, there is no opportunity without it. Just ask those who stuck their necks out during SARS.
“At the end of the day, it takes more than just luck in the property market to gain through the property market,” finishes Wong. “One of the most crucial elements is the investor’s luck. For a holistic approach in planning your investment, by matching the market’s luck with your own elements you’ll get luck on your side.” Fingers crossed.