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Showing posts from March, 2011

Interview with the "first expat to live on Park Island".

I recently met Frederik, who has lived on Park Island for many years, and claims to be "the first expat on Ma Wan". I asked him to respond to a few questions for my blog. Here is our conversation:
-Were you really the first ex-pat on Park Island? Yes, I really think so. I came here just when the first phase was completed. It was at stage where I would still get people looking at me just because I was a foreigner. That no longer happens, but it was fun at first being special like that.
-How did you end up choosing Park Island to live? I was sent to HK to work for a Danish shipping company. I came to HK not with specific ideas about where to live. Most ex-pats come here and live in Mid Levels, Happy Valley, Discovery Bay. I did not know about areas, so I looked more on the map to see what could be suitable. For many Europeans, we really need clean air and open spaces, so that played a big part. Back then, the rents were also very cheap at Park Island. I liked the facilities, and i…

Apartment on Park Island rents for $67,000 a month!

Not all of my posts will be related to property prices, but obviously rental and sales prices are always a topic of interest.
Last week, an apartment of approx 1500 square foot, with a large rooftop and absolute ocean views rented for $67K a month. I am familiar with these types of apartments. They are either approx 1500 sqf with internal steps up to a private rooftop, approx 1500 sqf which opens up to a very large balcony. Two or three years ago you could rent them for around 25-28K. Last year the price range was aroud 30-35K. This year, in my opinion, they are still available in the 40-45K range. So the news that one rented for 67K was really quite interesting to me.
I found out a little more about the apartment and its new tenant. First the apartment - it is nicely rennovated, modern style, suitable for the taste of a typical Westerner ex-pat. The rooftop also has some nice additions - large pot plants, some outdoor furniture etc. So this shows, that spending a bit on Western tastes …

How much above bank valuation to pay for Hong Kong property

I was sent an email today by a reader of my blog who wants to buy an apartment on Park Island and is finding that every apartment for sale is at a minimum 15-20% above the valuation offered by banks for mortgage purposes.
My advice to him, was that this phenomenon is not only something that happens on Park Island. In Hong Kong, in a "rising market" it is in fact the norm that when you buy a place it will usually be at a price 10-15% above bank val. There are many reasons for this, but basically the banks are somewhat conservative, and also use valuation figures of transactions that closed 2-3 months ago. Since I have been in HK since 1997, its always been that way.
The potential buyer was looking at an apartment offered at 5 million for 712 square foot. He told me that HSBC values it at 4.4m and Bank Of China values it at 4.52m, and wanted to know if 5m was a "fair price". My advice on this is as follows:
Some “local banks” will give it a slightly higher valuation. So…

Expat demand for homes on Park Island tipped to rise

I read in the newspaper today that Ricacorp expects demand for Park Island apartments to rise, especially from expats. The head of research at Ricacorp expects rents to increase 2% per month over the next year.
Property agents also are reporting strong demand and enquiries from potential Japanese tenants who are increasingly viewing Hong Kong as an alternative to living in Japan.

The old village on Ma Wan

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Many people think only of the modern Park Island development when they hear of Ma Wan island. There is also the "local village" which consists of newly built houses for the locals who lived on Ma Wan before it was sold to Sun Hung Kai who developed Park Island.
There is however a lesser known part of Ma Wan, which is the original village (sometimes referred to as the "old village). It has mostly been abandoned now, and it will sooner or later be developed by Sun Hung Kai. Most people say it will be a high end hotel resort managed by Shangri La, possibly with a marina, but I am not sure if the plans are finalized. Others have speculated that a private car-park for Park Island residents might be built on part of this land.
If anyone knows exactly what is being planned for the old Ma Wan village, please do let me know.
I went exploring today, and took a few photos:

In this pic you can see some of the old buildings in the old village that have not yet been demolished. You can s…

Japanese people living on Park Island

On the ferry coming from Park Island to Central, I got speaking to a man next to me, and quickly discovered he was Japanese. Of course the first thing we spoke about was the terrible earthquake, and the nuclear crisis. He was from Kobe, so had experienced a huge earthquake in the past.
We got talking about why he moved to HK etc, and also that it seems that more people from Japan are moving to Park Island. He told me that some of the Japanese people on Park Island have been there since the very first phases were launched, and that gradually other Japanese had also decided they like to live there. He said that apart from a developing presence of Japanese on Park Island, many Japanese also like to live on HK island, in Tai Koo Shing (which is near Causeway Bay).
As to why Japanese came to Park Island, he said that the biggest attraction is the cleanliness, the air quality, and the high quality living style, all of which Japanese like. He also said Japanese like the community feeling on th…

Pizza on Ma Wan, Park Island

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OK, well the last few post have been food related. Maybe its because I am working out in the Park Island fitness center more which is making me more hungry, hence all the food related posts lately.
Anyhow, today's post is about where to buy pizza on Park Island. My favorite pizza is Mug Pizza. They are in the local Ma Wan Village, but many people in the Park Island apartments order from them. Once again, like other places in Park Island, these guys seem to make an effort to use a natural preparation style, fresh vegies (not sure if organic) and they make a really nice, reasonably priced pizza. Whilst I also like going to Romas for pizza, I also like getting a Mug Pizza takeaway, grabbing a can or to of Tsing Tao beer, and then heading down to the beach for a relaxing snack.
I am not sure the exact street they are on, but if you walk towards the middle of the Ma Wan Village you will see a signpost advertising them.

Dim Sum on Park Island - Honey Heart Dim Sum restaurant

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Park Island has a number of Chinese Food restaurants. You can get Chinese food in the Park Island main resort area, and in the private club houses, and at the restaurants along the beach. But for dim sum, my favourite place is a locally owned Dim Sum restaurant in the village area of Ma Wan, opposite Blocks 19-23 of Park Island, called Honey Heart.




The restaurant is owned by a local Ma Wan villager, who has a philosophy of using ononly the best food ingrediants, and minimizing any additives, artificial flavourings, MSG, etc. She came up with the idea of doing this as she was always a healthy eater herself, and because she wanted a restaurant that fitted the Park Island theme of good healthy and where possible organic food.
The restaurant is not flash, but the food is without doubt excellent. People sit inside and out on the sidewalk in the sunshine.

Singapore noodles (only they are not fried, but rather steamed).

Really healthy and yummy Chinese Pork-bone soup.

Siew Mai, Har Gaw and Pai Gw…

Property Prices on Park Island

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Below is a graph which shows the performance of Park Island property transaction prices over the last year, March 2010 to March 2011.


Based on this graph, from Centerline Property, one can see that transaction volume for Park Island apartment is around 10-20 sales a week. One can see that almost all buyers are "long term", holding the property for more than a year, rather than speculative "flip sellers".
One can see a clear trend of prices rising over the last year, with a spike in prices particularly in the last month.
The average price for a Park Island apartment, according to Centerline Property Data, is HKD $5800 per square foot. My casual observation is that sellers are asking around HKD $5900 to $6500 per square foot, depending on view etc, and that sellers of the "super apartments" (ie those with extra large balconies or rooftops) are asking around $10,000 per square foot.
I have heard, that the new phase of villas is being sold privately by developer …

How to get to Park Island from Central

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To get to Park Island from Central, the easiest way is to use the ferry.
Go to the Central Ferry Pier No. 2. You will see a big sign that says "Park Island". It costs around HKD $20 (approx USD $3) to board the ferry.
The ferrys go at least every half hour, on the half hour (eg 10am, 10.30am, 11am, etc, and during busy periods they go every 15 minutes).
Right now you can also get a cab to and from Park Island during certain times, which will shortly change to 24 hours.
Here is a YouTube clip that shows you how to walk from Central Station to Park Island, Ma Wan.



Cafe Roma restaurant review

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I was at Cafe Roma on Park Island last night, and over a meat lovers pizza and a glass of red wine I decided to write this restaurant review.

Cafe Roma is a bar/cafe/reataurant right across from the main beach on Park Island.


Photo of Cafe Roma.


Cafe Roma lunch menu.


Park Island residents and visitors enjoying a drink at Cafe Roma, Ma Wan


Cafe Roma viewed from Park Island Beach.

The staff at Cafe Roma are extremely friendly, with a relaxed and casual yet professional service. I usually go there a few times a week for lunch, and also sometimes for dinner or a beer, or two.

If I have guests visiting from overseas, I always enjoy going to Cafe Roma for a meal and a bottle of wine overlooking the ocean. In many ways, when you are there, it really feels like you are somewhere on a beach holiday, like Phuket. Its hard to imagine you are in HK, as its so relaxed.

The menu at Cafe Roma is pretty casual. Pizza, chicken wings, burgers, pasta, salads, etc. An OK selection of wines, and a range …

Useful Park Island Websites

I was recently sent a request to provide some useful websites for people moving to Hong Kong. Here are my suggestions:

For ex-pats moving to Asia, or expats moving to Hong Kong, I reccomend: www.AsiaExpat.com and Asia classifieds site www.Admart.Asia .

GeoExpat.com is also quite useful. These sites contain classifieds and also a chat forum.

For property information on Park Island for rent or for sale, try:
www.centadata.com/pih09/pih09/estate.aspx?type=3&code=WDPPWPPEPB&lang=eng&source=data or www.admart.asia/en/HK/Property.

For a bank loan to buy property on Park Island try www.HSBC.com.hk or www.whbhk.com

For Hong Kong news in English try www.SCMP.com

For Hong Kong weather try www.weather.gov.hk

For a spa on Park Island try www.spa-parkislandhk@angsana.com

For Park Island restaurant reviews try www.openrice.com/english/restaurant/sr1.htm?district_id=3022

For blogs on Park Island try:
www.hktour.blogspot.com/2008/10/park-island-ma-wan-island.htmlwww.themepark10.blogspot.com…

Photo of the new villas on Park Island!

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Here is a photo of the villas being built on Park Island.