Sunday, February 5, 2012

An unconventional way to find cheap flats in Singapore and Hong Kong for investment

If you want to buy a cheap flat in Singapore and Hong Kong for investment reasons, there is a very unconventional way to find one: checking on the haunted houses. Although these two cities are modern marvels, the thousands of years old superstitions still rule. For example, it is believed that the hungry ghost of a person who dies in unnatural circumstances – a suicide, murder or bad accident – inhabits his/her home (remember the countless Japanese movies on Onryo like Ringu) passing misfortune onto the new occupant. These houses will deter ethnically Chinese buyers, who compose the majority of the property buying demand in Singapore and Hong Kong. But these ghost stories will fail to have any impact on expatries who compose the majority of the property rental demand in Singapore and Hong Kong:

“But not everyone is afraid of ghosts, and in the cut and thrust of the Hong Kong’s runaway property market, some investors are actively following the tragedies, aware that dark incidents push the price down. Discounts of between 20 per cent to 40 per cent are the standard for the haunted houses, with a knock-on for the rental yield, said Mr. Eric Wong of the  property web site, which has a channel dedicated to the phenomenon. “[1] Haunted Houses page
The web site’s web page for haunted houses in Hong Kong lists a list of Hong Kong properties with what happened and when it happened. Some investors specifically looks for these houses to buy and then they rent them to expatriates who do not have the same beliefs as Hong Kong people so they do not care about the history of the house. Haunted houses can be sold with 40% depending on what happened and how recently it has happened.

I have seen several lists circulated in internet about haunted properties in Singapore to warn buyers about their history. And there are several ghost stories in this small island for example the pontianak (a vampiric ghost in Malay and Indonesian mythology) around the house and the nearby Bukit Brown and Mount Pleasant cemeteries. Recently residents of two Woodlands HDB blocks petitioned against building an elder-care centre at their void decks with worries of more deaths in the area and thus reduced property prices.

These things really matter here. A few years ago a friend of mine rented a unit a little cheaper than the units around. The unit number was 413. 4 is considered an unlucky number in Chinese because it is nearly homophonous to the word "death" and 13 is the unlucky number for western cultures! On the opposite side, you will see that units on the 8th floor or with a lot of 8ths in its unit number tend to be more expensive (sounds similar to the word which means "prosper" or "wealth").

[1] - Haunted House Discounts in Hong Kong, The Straits Times

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