Foreign investors looking to start a business in Hong Kong will often need a suitable office space or even a home in the city. When performing any types of real estate transactions, a real estate due diligence procedure in Hong Kong can help you make sure that the property you are about to buy is suitable, has the right price and won’t bring you any losses.
Our real estate lawyer in Hong Kong is experienced in concluding real estate transactions and can help you find a property that is both risk-free and suited to your best needs.
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Performing a real estate due diligence in Hong Kong
The real estate due diligence process will target key information about the building you wish to purchase. The process can be performed for commercial real estate as well as for residential real estate, paying attention to the particularities of the space and the differences that exist between these two types of real estate.
The due diligence report will offer you information about the financial records, loans and leases on the property, as well as provide additional details about the technical state of the premises and whether or not they meet the environmental and safety requirements.
It is advisable to seek specialized assistance for this process, like the services offered by our real estate lawyer in Hong Kong.
We invite you to watch a video about the real estate procedure in Hong Kong:
What does the real estate due diligence include?
A usual due diligence checklist will include:
- Financial information: a review of the utility bills, the tax documents, the capital improvements and their plans, the expenses according to building data and others such as leasing cost information;
- Legal and insurance: any previous or pending litigations, insurance policies that may still be in effect on the property and others;
- Tenancy: a complete review of the existing tenancy agreements, if applicable, performed by our real estate lawyer in Hong Kong;
- Title and zoning: a checkup of all issues related to the title of the building as well as zoning reports or surveys, any restrictions that may apply in the area and other specific information.
In some situations, the due diligence process can also include a separate expert assessment. For example, this can be the case for an engineering inspection, when the building has had certain repair works in the past and an expert is needed to determine their quality or when the building is passed a certain building age and needs a thorough inspection. Our real estate law firm in Hong Kong can arrange for separate expert evaluations during the due diligence process. Others may include environmental inspections, seismic risk assessments, or other inspections and mechanical reports.
In the case of commercial real estate, our team can also arrange for the operational information evaluation that will determine the status of a commercial property used as the headquarters for business in relation to its corporate history, any disputes that may have existed, and a number of other issues. This can be an important process in a company merger or acquisition when the real estate purchase of a certain warehouse or factory that is still functional is included (and the takeover of all of the employees working in that location will also be a part of the transaction).
The experts at our real estate law firm in HK can also provide additional real estate due diligence services and help you obtain any additional licenses and permits as well as deal with any legal issues or disputes that may arise during the purchase of the property.
What is the general property purchase process in Hong Kong?
Foreigners are allowed to purchase land and property in Hong Kong. However, land owners are only given Government Leases for the areas purchased, as all land in the city is owned by the state. The buyer and the seller will need to conclude a provisional agreement and after all the details of the transaction have been agreed upon, sign a final sale/purchase agreement (the Formal Agreement).
Below, our real estate lawyer in Hong Kong highlights the main issues to take into consideration when looking to purchase a domestic property:
- the research phase: it is not mandatory to be present in Hong Kong during the entire property purchase phase, however, you will want to schedule a viewing of the chosen place before moving onto the next step;
- viewing: the actual viewing of the property is a very important step and one that will allow you to enter the first phase of the due diligence process
- the documents: one needs to check the tile and the encumbrances against the property; this too is included in the due diligence package provided by our real estate law firm in Hong Kong;
- sign the provisional agreement: as previously mentioned, this is the first form of the sale/purchase agreement that is signed between the buyer and the seller;
- the taxes: the sale of residential property in Hong Kong is subject to stamp duty; our lawyers can offer you more details.
Individuals who purchase real estate in Hong Kong will usually work with a broker or real estate agent who will oversee the entire process.
How can our real estate law firm in Hong Kong help you?
Our team consists of a number of experienced property lawyers who have worked with investors and corporations alike interested in acquiring real estate in the Special Administrative Region. We are able to provide complete legal assistance throughout the purchase process as well as in related matters such as the property owner and tenant relationship, which is largely governed by the Landlord and Tenant (Consolidation) Ordinance 2004.
Our team can provide you with assistance depending on the final use of the building, whether commercial or residential. If you are looking to purchase real estate and then lease the space to companies or individuals, our lawyers can provide ongoing assistance for the phases that follow once the sale is final. We can help draw up tenancy agreements with companies or individuals as well as provide legal counsel in a number of issues that are important when doing business in Hong Kong.
Our team of real estate lawyers in Hong Kong has good knowledge of the applicable laws and regulations as well as their subsequent changes and additions and of the local real estate industry sector, one that is a dynamic one in Hong Kong.
We can help you with all matters related to sale and purchase of properties/landed property, mortgage tenancy, building management, leasing transactions, real estate disputes, real estate investment funds and trusts and many more. We are a full-service law firm that work with private and corporate clients in the real estate sector. Our team has extensive knowledge of the sector, its challenges and unique particularities, present only in Hong Kong, a city that has developed extensively for the past decade.
Lawyers for real estate disputes in Hong Kong
Real estate disputes can have a complex nature in many cases and a pragmatic approach is often preferred, especially when issue is one concerning real estate disputes and impedes the project and, in turn, is costly for the real estate investor. Court litigation may ne the only solution in certain real estate disputes, however, with our legal aid, clients can rest assured that we will focus on highly efficient solutions, so that the development project may continue and that the real estate development may conclude the transaction in the most suitable way possible for the given situation.
Our real estate litigation lawyers can help you with disputes concerning real property rights, development disputes, high-value residential disputes, and also those that concern disputes between the landlord and the tenant or those related to professional negligence in real estate construction.
We focus on delivering clear legal advice for both private and corporate clients and if you encounter an issue of any sort that led to a real estate dispute, our team can help assist you in and out of court. We act on behalf of our clients and are able to represent landlord or tenants through a power of attorney.
Working with a licensed estate agent is important for lawful and successful property transactions in Hong Kong. If you have been subject to deceit or unfit services provided by a real estate agent, our team can help you resolve the disputes or issues that have appeared as a direct result of negligence, improper conduct or unlicensed services. It is useful to know that there are two types of licenses approved by the Estate Agents Authority in Hong Kong: the estate agent’s license and the salesperson’s license. Moreover, a company can only provide estate agent services of it is not subject to liquidation or a winding-up order. Likewise, it cannot offer services if its director or officer is currently disqualified from owning a license under the Estate Agents Ordinance. We can help you verify if an estate agent has a valid license, and we can also assist you if you believe that your interests as a client have been compromised by the estate agent (when he did not protect the interests of both parties). Our lawyers can also assist you if a real estate agent claims unlawful commissions.
We can also give you information about the treatment of purchased property in case of divorce in Hong Kong.
Building Ordinance lawyers in Hong Kong
Our team has significant experience in matters contained in the Buildings Ordinance as well as the related legislation. We can help you with legal counsel for demolition works, inspection and repair works, the regulations for ventilating systems, the current sanitary fitments standards as well as those for plumbing and drainage works and energy efficiency. A special division of our team also specializes in the Buildings Ordinance applicable to the New Territories, including the New Territories Exempted houses. The law stipulates that village houses built by indigenous villagers are to follow certain rules, and the same is applicable for the redevelopment of village houses in the Territories. Our lawyers can help those interested apply for a Certificate of Exemption in the Construction of New Territories Exempted Houses.
The team of attorneys at our law firm in Hong Kong can further assist those who are interested in knowing more about the manner in which failure to comply with the Buildings Ordinance as well as the Fore Safety laws for commercial premises and buildings are prosecuted. In 2018, there were 4 convictions for offences related to new building works and 19 convictions for failure to comply with the fire safety improvement requirements. The same year, 2 convictions were made for failure to comply with hillside and buried services repairs and 15 convictions were in place for non-compliance with building and drainage repairs. The highest number of convictions for non-compliance was for failure to remove unauthorized building works, more than 1.000 being issued in only in 2018 (with 2.315 such convictions having been made in 2017). Our team can help you avoid the penalties for non-compliance with the statutory orders and directions.
The real estate sector in Hong Kong
According to the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department, the number of real estate projects increased on a year-on-year basis from 2017 to 2018. The figures show the following:
- number of projects in 2017: 299;
- total real estate projects in 2018: 320;
- total expenses for the real estate expenses during the reported period: 123,584 HM$ million in 2017 and 88,178 HK million for the 2018 projects;
- the land area of the real estate projects for the two periods: 2,256 sq. m for 2017 and 3,073 sq. m in 2018;
- the gross floor area of the buildings upon completion: 8,617 thousand sq. m in 2017 and 9,264 sq. m in 2018.
If you are interested in acquiring real estate in Hong Kong you can contact our real estate lawyer in Hong Kong. Our consultants will be able to assist you throughout the entire purchase procedure and offer you legal advice whenever needed.