As property prices continue to rise and the secondary market supply starts to shrink, unoccupied properties are becoming increasingly scarce, making homes for sale that are still occupied highly sought after. With buyers facing limited options, almost every available unit that’s half decent can attract multiple potential buyers. However, purchasing a property involves releasing large amounts of funds, so there are factors that buyers to need to be aware of and crucial steps that they simply cannot skip, even when they are eager to seal the deal.
One of them is to check if you have been introduced to buy a “haunted house”. A big taboo in traditional Chinese culture; naturally, most homebuyers have an aversion towards haunted homes, and would only consider purchasing one at a substantial discount.
Legally speaking, there aren’t explicit rules and regulations on which types of units can be defined as haunted homes, let alone having an accurate and comprehensive database of all of Hong Kong’s haunted houses to do research. In the industry, haunted homes usually refer to properties where unnatural deaths have occurred. There are a few organisations that have an online database of these incidents. Of course, different websites will have different results, so it is suggested that you check and compare several websites to be fully informed before making any decisions.
On the other hand, many housing estate management companies will try to avoid public attention when handling these kinds of issues, therefore not all unnatural deaths are reported by the media or independent websites. It’s always recommended that prospect buyers ask the property agency directly as they usually keep their own records of haunted houses, which tend to be more thorough than those kept by organisations and websites. Although I believe that it’s the agent’s responsibility to inform buyers about the history of the property, there are irresponsible agents who won’t tell if you don’t ask, so be cautious and make the extra effort to confirm with them if you suspect anything.
In addition, if the previous homeowner had passed away in the unit, it would appear on the Land Registry’s death records which you can access to check the cause of his or her death; this is a helpful tool for you to find out more about the property’s history. You can also make enquiries directly to the housing estate manager as well as the homeowner. There isn’t a 100% fool-proof way to avoid haunted homes but the more research you do, the less likely you will end up in one.
Fortunately, there are property agencies that offer the aforementioned services to clients to make them feel more comfortable and at ease with their choices. Therefore, it is important for home seekers to do some homework and pick reliable, quality agencies that have your best interests at heart.
>> Previous issue: HIBOR hike likely to trigger mortgage lending rates
>> Next issue: Real Estate Market Outlook 2018