Homes come down on mainland deals

Local | Cissy So 20 Apr 2018

Hongkongers should be cautious when buying mainland properties, a pro-Beijing political party warned after more than 100 people were hit by losses in village houses that they purchased in Huizhou.

It is understood they fell into the trap of buying "homes with limited property rights" and under mainland government orders to be abolished.

The scam involved more than 140 homes that saw 100 million yuan (HK$125.05 million) change hands. Victims claimed they lost over 300,000 yuan each .

Lawmaker Elizabeth Quat of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong has asked the central government liaison office to pass on the complaints to the Huizhou government for appropriate action.

She said victims signed contracts with a committee charged with running the village near Huizhou, Guangdong.

Under mainland law, villagers can buy and sell agricultural land to each other, but they are barred from selling properties to outsiders or erecting high-rise buildings on land that they have purchased.

"This type of contract that the victims signed was not totally legal and the government cannot protect their rights as they were not legal," Quat said.

The affected Hongkongers hoped the mainland government will suspend demolition so they can negotiate compensation with the developers.

One of the victims, surnamed Ma, said he bought a unit for his retirement.

"Construction was half completed and local intermediaries and lawyers went through the [sale and purchase] documents," Ma said.

He paid the full amount and signed a contract that indicated the unit he was purchasing was "cooperative housing," not "homes with limited property rights."

He was recently told that the building housing his home would be demolished as it was deemed an illegal structure.

Another victim, Ng, said he couldn't afford to buy a flat in Hong Kong.

"That flat near Huizhou was originally intended as a gift to my mother for her retirement. But now, the gift is being demolished," she said.

Quat said there is significant risk in buying mainland properties as buyers are presented with cooperative housing documents, not those relating to private properties.

"If Hongkongers plan to buy properties in the mainland or overseas, they should do their research and seek legal advice first," she said.

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