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Hong Kong's hot market in 'haunted' houses

Peter Shadbolt CNN 11/27/2011 00:34
Hong Kong's hot market in 'haunted' houses - Real Estate - Property - Hong Kong - Business


For sale: Hong Kong apartment with sweeping sea views and three rooms, all signs of a recent grisly murder in the bathroom eliminated, will take offers between 15-20% below market value.



In Hong Kong, where superstitions can make or break a property deal, a real estate advertisement like this is not beyond the realms of the fantastic.

With the local property market showing signs of cooling, almost every angle is worked to increase yields, and a trade in so-called haunted houses is now a visible feature of the market.

"There are a group of people that go around and bid on them," explains Eric Wong, a realtor with Hong Kong's Squarefoot.com.hk. "Chinese people, especially in Hong Kong, don't like houses where something unfortunate has happened.

"This means they can sell for less, which makes the rental yields greater. The normal yields are between 3-4%, but an apartment where there's been a murder can get a yield of about 7%," he said.

The apartment is then rented to someone who does not share the same set of beliefs -- normally a foreigner -- although some realtors say there are Chinese clients who don't care and one even identifies doctors and nurses 'who are used to working around the dead' as potential tenants.

"It often depends on the circumstances of the death and what stories and rumors are attached to it," says Wong. Particularly gruesome murders or harrowing deaths can affect the market price of the whole floor of apartments; in some cases, the entire building.

"There was a bad murder in an apartment block in Quarry Bay in Hong Kong," he says. "A wife killed her husband, cut the body into pieces and placed the parts in dustbins on every floor. Even 15 years later, apartments in that block are still difficult to sell."

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