Moving day approaches, slowly

histhkAnother ‘off’ day, as preparations continue for the world’s most leisurely, drawn-out, slow-motion and lethargic residential relocation, from the Soho tong lau abode of almost a quarter of a century to a rented place up the hill.

The plan, ultimately, is to sell the old apartment, sit back and wait for the long-overdue Hong Kong property price crash – ideally in around six months’ time – then buy a reasonably good-value permanent place. In more pessimistic moments, noticing how Hong Kong’s home prices move inversely to the city’s quality of governance, prospects and happiness, I stop wondering ‘Island or Kowloon?’ and ponder something more along the lines of ‘Taiwan or Thailand?’

Anyway, there are hundreds of books, long-unworn clothes and multiple-identical kitchen utensils to sort out and discard in the nearer-term. With energy and effort (unlikely), the old place might be cleared and ready for sale by January-ish. But now a slight complication comes along, in the form of Richfield.

richfield-csrClosely linked to Henderson Land, Richfield are – some believe – such a scummy, putrid and loathsome pile of slugs that they make the rest of Hong Kong’s property development industry look cute and cuddly. Essentially, they buy up units in old buildings until they have enough clout to override holdouts, and then hand over to Henderson to demolish for redevelopment. Operators of this sort have been accused in the past of such charming tactics as enabling flooding or other damage to drive out residents, installing funeral paraphernalia in the property to freak out innocent old ladies, or locking gullible owners into agreements to sell with no money up-front.

The pushy, soulless Richfield-floozy who forced corporate 2017 calendars on everyone last week actually seemed fairly forthright (by the standards of utterly never-ever-to-be-trusted toxic slime). She has an uphill struggle.

The ground-floor owner rents his space out to a fresh restaurant-investor-masochist-cretin every two years, and wouldn’t trade it for a gold mine. (A smaller street-level property a few doors down is supposedly on the market for HK$70 million – which looks like a typo but isn’t.) At least half the other owners are landlords letting to young expat fools who buy drinking water from the supermarket and live off pizza. It will be difficult to get in these owners’ faces.

That leaves the resident-owners, namely me plus mostly humble and elderly indigenous folk who can recall the neighbourhood before it had a name or found itself tragically pioneering Hong Kong-style post-1990s gentrification-on-steroids. (Wistful nostalgia here, though only if you’re bored.) Like many older-generation Hongkongers, they are probably not gullible and indeed they are pretty tough – they lynch Jehovah’s Witnesses for breakfast. They would happily tell the Richfield-floozy to drop dead.

However, Ms Richfield-floozy has a lure. Her company, she says, is thinking of offering everyone an attractive deal to buy the place up. She says, matter-of-factly, HK$21,000 per square foot. Sometime after Chinese New Year.

It depends how quickly I can sort out all the books and junk. It would also help if Richfield did not have a reputation for lying, cheating and conning.

 

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6 Responses to Moving day approaches, slowly

  1. PD says:

    I can’t resist dishing out various bits of advice, from the benefit of my extensive experience in the field (where you may indeed end up if you’re not careful).

    One always starts off with ambitious plans, like being able to sell quickly, enabling one to start by looking for a new place and hoping to move only sorted-out, essential stuff, and being able to label the boxes with contents and destination room before it’s too late. But somehow…

    Might the $21k per sq ft, which sounds about right-to-lowish, be merely a first offer? In any case, you should run round/email a few estate agents to try to get a markedly better offer. If you have time/energy, do a quick paint job first, without going to town.

    Removal firms can on occasion be highly efficient, even packing up stuff, although bossable-about elves are a better bet. Storage facilities, ditto.

    The so-called provisional S&P agreement is in fact binding, if only because of the deposit, usually but not always 3% — copies available at the stationer. Strangely enough, lawyers are reluctant to get involved until it’s too late.

    If you get a reasonable offer, sit on it for a couple of days, while advertising for all your worth, in English and Chinese, to try to bump it up. I once got an auction going, although you need two people: amazing what offers accumulate in such conditions….

  2. Commiserations. We had thought you had enough money by now, After serving all ,those awful demented rangers, to move into our little enclave of genteel ease, Stanley Village, but I suppose also gracious living is something you hardly appreciate now, after years of Asphaltmensch alienation in deepest Soho Triangle. There are whole trees up the in the Mid Levels, they say. They all look diseased and worried however. Good luck!

  3. Laguna Lurker says:

    Whatever you decide, Hemmers, I wish you a carefree transition away from that awful place laughably known as Soho.

    You mentioned Taiwan or Thailand. (I assume you’re contemplating retirement.) Have you considered the Philippines? Real estate here is plentiful and cheap, though you wouldn’t be able to own it unless you found yourself a trustworthy local partner. I would suggest a locale that has some elevation above, say, 300 metres, so as to escape the oppressive summer heat.

    Thanks to the way the US is now punishing us for the recent divorce from our former colonial master, my HK pension has rocketed since the new regime took over.

    http://www.xe.com/currencycharts/?from=HKD&to=PHP&view=1Y

    If you can accept substitutes for imported goods, you can live very comfortably on a shoestring. Local produce is of generally good quality. Despite the negative Western media propaganda, the Philippines is a welcoming and increasingly progressive society. English is spoken as widely, if not more so, than in HK. The country is diverse and beautiful, as are many of the women.

    Best move I ever made!

  4. Joe Blow says:

    The eternal expat dream: comfortable retirement in Thailand or the Peens. You might as well develop a crack addiction. At least when you prematurely die, it’s not because of boredom and a diseased liver.

  5. Old Newcomer says:

    A bit of searching turns up both Richfield Realty Ltd (http://www.richfieldgroup.hk/eng/) and what appears to be its parent company, Richfield Group, which in 2015 changed its name to Winfull Group Holdings Ltd (http://www.winfullgroup.hk/about.htm) – though both names appear on Winfull’s website, as if it’s only been partially updated. Curiously, the site only works properly with Internet Explorer – view it with Chrome and great chunks appear to be missing.

  6. Joe Blow says:

    Why does Bunny Chan have more medals than Joe Stalin ?

    @Laguna daddy: what’s the going rate / minimum age in Angeles City these days ?

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