'Haunted house' function gives prospective buyers grisly apartment details

'Haunted house' function gives prospective buyers grisly apartment details

Finding a place to live in Hong Kong has always been a challenge for expats. But for those with a strong constitution there might be some bargains.

HONG KONG: Those who have looked for a place to live in Hong Kong know the frustration; the city ranks among the most expensive property markets in the world, no matter if it’s to buy or rent.

But two-year-old startup Spacious.hk is now offering apartment hunters with strong constitutions another option.

With its new “haunted house” function, users can quickly tell if any untimely deaths have occurred in a particular property.

“Ultimately it reduces demand, because there's a certain population out there wouldn't live there, that means potentially you can get a bargain,” said Spacious founder and CEO, Asif Ghafoor.

“The most extreme I've seen was a couple years ago when the murders happened at J residence, that particular unit came back onto the market with a 30% discount.”

In Hong Kong, where many locals are obsessed with Feng Shui, property agents are required to disclose murders, but not suicides or other suspicious deaths.

J-residence in the district of Wanchai was the scene of a gruesome double murder, allegedly committed by former British banker Rurik Jutting, who is yet to stand trial.

That might be an extreme case, but in the past few years, agents said homes that have seen sudden deaths have on average warranted a 10-15 percent discount.

Yet, with rents dropping at a fast pace over the past four years, the need to buy such properties could be diminishing.

"During the good time, the market is really hot, prices are really expensive. There's a market for this,” said Midland Realty chief analyst Buggle Lau.

“But when the market softens, and if you have a choice, then it's not necessary for you to buy this kind of apartment,” he said.

It does mean the ones who are still unfazed can command even more bargaining power.

In more bad news to spook landlords, after a 2 per cent drop in October alone, Midland is forecasting rents in Hong Kong to fall another 10 to 15 per cent next year.

Source: CNA/jb