Finding an Estate Agent

Under the Estate Agents Ordinance (EAO), anyone carrying out estate agency work in Hong Kong must have a valid estate agent’s or salesperson’s license. It is an offence to carry out estate agency work without a license or to employ an unlicensed person to do so. According to the Code of Ethics issued by the Estate Agents Authority (EAA), estate agents must serve their clients with honesty, fidelity and integrity, protect and promote the interests of their clients, and act in a fair and impartial manner to all parties involved in the transaction.

If you are purchasing a second-hand property (purchase not from a property developer), prior to signing a provisional agreement for sale and purchase with the landlord, your appointed estate agent should have provided you with the following:

  1. A Property Information Form
  2. A copy of the latest land search record

Information listed in the Property Information Form includes ownership, claims on the property (if any), floor area, year of completion and user restrictions of the property. Remember to obtain from the agent a copy of all the documents you have signed.

Here are some additional points to note:

  • Only licenses estate agents can accept appointment
  • You should sign an Estate Agency Agreement with the agent to protect both parties’ interest
  • The Agreement should specify:
  • The period during which the Agreement is valid
  • Duties of the estate agent
  • The commission as agreed between the agent and the purchaser and when the commission is to be paid
  • Whether the appointment is a “dual agency” or a “single agency” (whether the agent represents both the purchaser and seller or if the agent only represents the purchaser)
  • If the agency is a “dual agency” the amount or rate of commission that the agent will receive from both sides
  • Ask the agent for detailed information about the property, including the area, age, user restrictions, owner, encumbrances, Government Lease term, and information supplied by the owner in relation to alterations and management fees
  • Ask the agent for copies of all the documents you have signed with the agency
  • Give precise and clear instructions to the agent, especially offers or counteroffers during the negotiation
  • A receipt is to be issued upon paying your fee
  • If the transaction is terminated, ask the agent for immediate return of any money held on your behalf
  • An agent should explain all the terms of the Estate Agency Agreement to his/her client

Before you appoint an estate agent to look for properties for you, you should:

  • Find out whether the agent will act on your behalf because if the agent also acts for the developer, he/she may not be able to protect your interests in the event of a conflict of interest
  • Find out whether any commission is payable to the agent – you need to agree with the agent the amount, and the time of payment
  • Only licenses estate agents or salespersons may accept your appointment – check their license number on their business card and ask for their Estate Agent Card

To view a list of agents who can help you find the property you want, click here