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FAQ

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Question Am I missing anything by not using an agent?
Answer Agents still have their place, but for those willing and eager to take control of the process themselves, we don’t think so.
Agents offer advertising, as does ZAP; ZAP’s advertising is viewable anytime of day at the click of a button.
Agents can organize viewings for you, you can organize viewings for you.
Agents provide basic agreements, your solicitor and ZAP offer the same.
Agents offer advice on legal matters – but they are not accountable and your solicitor is more qualified to do so.
Yes there is one thing you are missing - large lump sum agency commissions.
 
Question Are there any risks involved in direct/non-agent transactions?
Answer There are risks in any real estate transaction if you do not have the proper advice and ZAP recommends an approach that protects you in a way most agent-arranged transactions do not. It is a simple approach - one that people obey in the majority of other contracts they enter into - and that is to appoint a solicitor to look after your interests before entering an agreement of any kind. It is common practice in HK for agents to advocate signing 'Provisional', but binding, agreements on the spot without seeking legal advice - agreements which also lock in their commission. Agent-arranged transactions are not necessarily bad - agents are required to have a basic understanding of how to read a land search - it's just there is better advice to be had, from a solicitor who is not incentivised by a particular deal and only represents you.
If you are about to sign an agreement with an agent without legal advice please ask for the agent to thoroughly explain the Land Search to you, and ask specifically if there are any encumbrances on the property.
- See ZAP's Step by Step Guide to help you through any transaction.
 
Question The Key area you need advice on – What is a Land Search and why is it important?
Answer As per the Hong Kong Government Lands Registry, Land Records are maintained by the Land Registry primarily for the purpose of facilitating property transactions. In every land transaction, it is important to ascertain who is the registered owner of the property in question and what encumbrances, if any, are registered against it. The required information can be obtained by conducting Land Search.”
- Questions to ask include: Is the Seller/Landlord the registered owner of the property; has the Government Lands Department or Buildings Department put any charges on the property and/or served any notices to the individual owner of the property, or on the owners of the building as a whole to repair damage, dangerous or illegal building works. Don't forget: Your solicitor is your best advisor on these matters.
 
Question Where can I get a copy of the Land Search?
Answer See ZAP's Useful Online Resources on how to acquire one yourself. If it is a property you are serious about and otherwise decided on your solicitor could also assist you.
 
Question Why should I contact a lawyer before entering into a Provisional Sale &Purchase Agreement?
Answer Both parties should be in communication with a solicitor prior to entering into a binding provisional agreement for sale and purchase to consult on the land search. There are mistakes that can be made, information and encumbrances that can be overlooked, so it is important to have proper legal advice.
 
Question Is it possible to carry out a Sale and Purchase transaction without a solicitor?
Answer Unless you are a solicitor yourself, you must appoint a solicitor to handle a transaction. It is normal practice for solicitors in HK to charge a flat fee to advise you on and execute a Sale and Purchase transaction in its entirety. When you have decided on a property you want to purchase, you should be able to consult with your solicitor on the Land Search without incurring additional costs.
 
Question Is it possible to carry out a rental or lease transaction without a solicitor?
Answer For residential transactions, unless your rental term is 3 years or more, then yes it is possible as there is no legal requirement for a rental agreement of less than 3 years in duration to be registered as a charge on the property. Whilst it is possible, there are still missteps that can be made and ZAP strongly recommends the safest way to proceed is by appointing a solicitor to advise you on the transaction. However leasing transactions in HK can and do take place without formal legal assistance. See ZAP's Step by Step Guide to help you through any transaction.
 
Question What do I need to know about applying for mortgages in Hong Kong?
Answer The deals on offer at any given time vary quite significantly so it makes sense to shop around, particularly at some of the less prominent retail banks in HK, such as ICBC, DBS, Bank of East Asia, China Construction Bank, as well as HSBC, Hang Seng Bank and Standard Chartered.
Most banks are eager for your business and for the most part you can walk in to any branch, or use website contact information to find out everything you need to know – and most importantly whether they would be will to offer you a mortgage loan, and if so how much. See ZAP's Mortgages and Valuations page for further details.