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Buying as an Expat

You were just moving to Hong Kong for 2 years and it has now been 6 so it might be time to turn your monthly rental into a mortgage. What's the process for buying and what do you need to look out for? Once again I sat down with Karen Wong from ARIA Property to get the low down.

Lower Cheung Sha Beach in South Lantau
Make the move away from the hustle and bustle

Buying a property in Hong is open to anyone with the means to do so. Hong Kong already boasts some of the most expensive property in the world, with the average square foot price at an eye watering US$4,670. Compare this to the United Kingdom at US$361 or the US at just US$222psf, and you get an idea just how pricy Hong Kong property can be.

If you don't yet own permanent residency (PR), the Hong Kong government imposes a 15% levy on the list price of a property and a 15% stamp duty rate so it might be worth waiting for PR before making the move to buy.

Unless you have a spare ten million dollars behind the sofa, you'll need help financing the purchase.


Most banks are willing to lend to expats, and the usual maximum lending amount if you're taking out the loan under the Mortgage Insurance Program is 80% of the property price meaning you only need to put forward 20% of the property's value initially. 20% will be the amount covered by the insurance and 60% by the bank. It's all based on a Loan To Value (LTV) ratio. The bank will ask to see at least 3 months pay slips and probably a tax return to ensure you earn enough to guarantee the mortgage. Heads up if you're self employed - you might find it hard to get a mortgage unless you have a very solid proof of earnings dating back at least 5-7 years. An important thing to check is the interest rate your loan is set at, and how much that could fluctuate. Have a look at various mortgage comparison websites. MoneySmart is a good one.

Some institutions are reluctant to lend out on properties over 10 years old, and if you have only recently started earning money in Hong Kong. I recommend speaking to a dedicated mortgage advisor to find a mortgage deal suitable to your needs and situation.


The biggest change to duties has come in the latest 2023 budget review where the government is putting in measures to assist buyers of small and medium properties. The rate of stamp duty has been lowered which is expected to help 37,000 buyers this year alone. Be aware that stamp duty needs to be paid within 30 days of the close of the property deal.

Amount or value of the consideration

(whichever is the higher)


Up to $3,000,000


​​​$3,000,001 to $3,528,240

$100 + 10% of the excess over $3,000,000

​$3,528,241 to $4,500,000


$4,500,001 to $4,935,480

$67,500 + 10% of the excess over $4,500,000

$4,935,481 to $6,000,000


$6,000,001 to $6,642,860

$135,000 + 10% of the excess over $6,000,000

$6,642,861 to $9,000,000


$9,000,001 to $10,080,000

$270,000 + 10% of the excess over $9,000,000

$10,080,001 to $20,000,000


$20,000,001 to $21,739,120

$750,000 + 10% of the excess over $20,000,000

$21,739,121 and above


Information taken from government budget 2023

Things to check:

  • Don’t just visit the property or the area once. Go for lunch in the local restaurant. Walk around the area in the evening as the vibe can change. We’re spoiled here on Lantau as there really are no ‘bad’ areas.

  • Make sure to do your due diligence with the Lands Registry as a quick check of land boundaries can throw up some surprises. A good agent can assist you with this.

  • Ask your agent about the schools in the area, visitor parking, hidden management fees and anything else a good local agent should know about.

  • Find out if there is any work due to be carried out on the property? As an owner, you might be liable to assist with the payments of these works.

  • Hong Kong has a strange system of usable space vs saleable space and it’s usually measured in square feet. Some developers abused a loophole in the 80’s to make a property sound much bigger than it is by expanding window bays, so be sure to take the time to visit and have a good look around.

  • The right agent will know the real value of the property you’re looking to purchase, not just the brochure price. They’ll be aware of local market fluctuations and hopefully will have a good relationship with local developers and land owners, so do your own research to find the right person to help you.

  • DID YOU KNOW: If there are solar panels on your roof of the property you’re buying, the seller will need to submit a 15 page document to transfer ownership of these panels, or your electricity will be cut for up to 4 months? Make sure to get all 15 pages!

If you’re interested in buying, selling or renting property on South Lantau, give Karen a call on 9056 8082 or visit to view what’s currently available.

Other interesting reads:

Check out Karen's Through The Keyhole Tour of South Lantau.

Check out Karen's article Avoid These Rental Traps

This is not financial advice. Please speak to a dedicated mortgage advisor. The value of your property can go up as well as down.


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