For many decades, residential property prices have been the most prominent thorn in Hongkongers’ sides; and the trend for satirically unaffordable housing doesn’t look to be stopping anytime soon. According to experts, buyers can expect to pay somewhere in the ballpark of HK$16 million for new homes in 2019* — a statistic that’s unsurprising, given the consistent price hikes which happen year-over-year.
It begs the obvious question: should you spend hard-won millions on an urban shoebox (likely built by a despotic property developer with little eye for design) or put your money towards a getaway that’s roomy, exciting and (in all likelihood) cheaper? Trick question — you should weigh up your options first. Welcome to Trading Spaces: a monthly series where we compare the average Hong Kong housing with our favourite overseas alternative valued at an identical/lower price point.
Hong Kong property #1
Address: Tai Mong Tsai Village, Sai Kung
Asking price: HK$48 million
As far as Hong Kong houses go, this one’s a doozy. Consisting of five standalone bedrooms swathed in natural light, and an outdoor living area that’s bigger than most Western District apartments, this Sai Kung refuge has to be seen to be believed. The original structure was set down in 1979, but has recently undergone an extensive renovation — providing a groovy modern counterpoint to the adjacent village of Tai Mong Tsai. The property’s location and three-storey layout yields fantastic views of surrounding Sai Kung (noted for its extensive network of green parks and barbeques) and is perfect for young families looking to carve out a slice of tropical living away from the troubles of Hong Kong Island.
Trade-up #1 (New York)
Address: 21 Astor Place, New York
Asking price: (approx) HK$46.7 million
If swaying trees and the sound of the ocean seem a trifle twee, then Christie’s newest New York listing shall register as much-needed relief. Located at 21 Astor Place, in the heart of NoHo, this expansive three-bedroom loft is equally suited to young families — albeit those who crave the convenience associated with living close to SoHo, Washington Square Park and the East Village. The property maximises 2,914 sq. ft. of interiors by combining dining, living and kitchen space all into a single open-space concept that’s great for playdates or dinner parties — probably at the same time.
Hong Kong property #2
Asking price: (approx) HK$15 million
At 420 sq. ft., this apartment (located in the newly-opened ‘Pierre’ development) offers the kind of value proposition Hongkongers have come to expect from ‘luxury’ housing on Central’s most desirable streets. The location is convenient to be sure, but aside from that, the lack of space and forgettable building specifications don’t exactly make for an uplifting sales pitch. Marble fixture fetish? Check. Comically tiny ‘balcony’? Of course. The good news? The property is within walking distance of PMQ: so you’ll have ample locations at which to drown your buyer’s remorse in alcohol.
Trade-up #2 (London)
Asking price: Studios starting at (approx) HK$15.4 million
If you’re seriously considering spending over HK$15 million on a serviced apartment, you may as well find one that at least looks the part. Located a stone’s throw from LSE and one of Britain’s most prestigious Inns of Court (from which it derives its name) Lincon’s Square — the shiniest new residence from Lodha Group — is an address that’s positively heaving with gravitas. An array of sleek designer apartments, ranging from studios all the way to a 1,998 sq. ft. penthouse, are set amongst professionally manicured green space, at the heart of London’s swankiest neighbourhood. As for the amenities? Let’s just say that even Marriott International would be impressed.
Hong Kong property #3
Address: 80 Robinson Road, Mid-Levels, Central
Asking price: HK$32 million
Located at the far end of Robinson Road, within walking distance of the Mid-Levels escalator, this three-bedroom property is a not-terrible option for buyers with a family unit numbering five or six. Built-in wardrobes help to visually tidy up the space, and the building (laid down in 2001) features several invaluable amenities: including a clubhouse; children’s room; and squash court. Still, at HK$32 million, it could hardly be considered a bargain and the overarching structure is well and truly starting to show its age.
Trade-up #3 (Los Angeles)
Address: 2415 Eastern Canal, Venice, Los Angeles
Asking price: (approx) HK$31.2 million
How’s this for an upgrade: for the price of the above flat on Robinson Road, less HK$800,000, you can inhabit a “jewel box of natural light” which was, at one time, inhabited by the progeny of Beatles guitarist George Harrison. Granted, Harrison never lived here himself, but this three-storey property — just around the corner from Venice Beach — has plenty of hard features worth discussion. The property boasts 360-degree views of the attendant Venice canals, and is decorated with huge quantities of glass — turning it into a prism for natural light. Clean finishes and timber flooring run throughout, and each floor is connected internally via a show-stopping spiral staircase.
*Statistics are obtained from a joint survey by Midland Realty and the HKSAR Rating and Valuation Dept relating to Hong Kong Island properties with gross area of 1,000+ sq. ft.