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Housing in Hong Kong
Hong Kong Housing: Tips & Admin Info
Are you unfamiliar with the Hong Kong housing market? Hire a real estate agent who can help with the process of locating and buying the right property. For expats with little knowledge of Cantonese or Mandarin, this is preferable to getting involved in the Hong Kong housing market themselves.
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Real Estate Agents and Solicitors
The usual commission for real estate agents working in the Hong Kong housing market amounts to about 1-2% of the sales price, but this can be negotiated and it is often split between buyer and seller. Real estate agents often require buyer and seller to sign a preliminary agreement and pay a deposit.
Knowing your way around the Hong Kong housing market is not exactly easy. You should hire a solicitor to assist you throughout the transaction and make sure that all the documents are in order, and old mortgages on the property you are about to buy are paid off. Throughout the transaction process, the solicitor will be in close contact with the seller’s solicitor. He or she will also research the Land Registry and Companies Registry if necessary and approve the Sale and Purchase Agreement which the seller’s solicitor has drafted.
Before signing the Sale and Purchase Agreement, you should visit the property together with the seller and your solicitors to make sure you agree on what is included in the sale. As soon as you sign the agreement, you will be responsible for the insurance. In some cases, you will need to show proof of insurance before your bank releases any money for the sale.
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Hong Kong Housing: Mortgage
If you are interested in an object the Hong Kong housing market has to offer and can prove that you are a long-time resident of Hong Kong, you can get a mortgage for up to 90% of the appraised value of your desired property, although mortgage rates obviously vary depending on bank and individual circumstances. Financing options are almost as diverse as the options in the Hong Kong housing market, so make sure to shop around a little. Keep in mind that banks are often reluctant to finance property purchases for people who cannot provide a long-term financial track record or want to purchase a building which is more than ten years old.
To apply for a mortgage, you need:
- A copy of your Hong Kong identity card
- A copy of the Sales + Purchase Agreement (if available)
- Proof of income
Get in touch with your bank in Hong Kong and find out if they need any additional documents to grant your entry to the Hong Kong housing market.
Taxes and Other Fees
When you have decided to purchase property in the Hong Kong housing market, there are a number of different taxes and fees to pay, a list of which you can find below. Not all of them may apply to you, but some of them will. You should not forget about them when planning your budget:
- Property Agency Fee
- Solicitor’s Fees
- Ad Valorem Stamp Duty (between 1.5% and 4.25%): This must be paid within 30 days of the purchase and is significantly higher (1.5%-8.5%) if the buyer is not a permanent resident or if they already own property in Hong Kong.
- Buyers Stamp Duty (15%): This duty is charged if the buyer is not a Hong Kong permanent resident buying on their own behalf.
- Special Stamp Duty (between 5% and 20%): This must be paid if the property is resold after less than 2 to 3 years.
- Deed Registration Costs: Your solicitor will arrange for a deed registration under the land registry. Your property will be then filed in a lodgment list.
- Property Insurance
- Quarterly Government Rates: All land in Hong Kong is owned by the government. Rates are charged on the occupation of property.
- Property Tax: This only applies to you if you are planning to get active in the Hong Kong housing market as a landlord. The tax is then derived from your rental income.
- Mortgage Arrangement Fees
- Property Management Fees: If an external building management service takes care of details, these fees will cover security, electricity and other maintenance costs.
The government may charge other fees and taxes, depending on your individual situation. Talk to your solicitor about the costs you have to expect and visit the Hong Kong government homepage for homeowners to get more information on fees, rates and taxes.