Karen Ha from Standard
Property agents could lose their licenses and face fines of up to HK$300,000 if they fail to provide prospective buyers with accurate measures of net salable area of secondary homes.
Starting from January 1, the Estate Agents Authority will require agents and property agencies to disclose both the net salable area and the gross floor area of all flats in the secondary market.
Information on the salable area should be obtained from either the Rating and Valuation Department or the Land Registry, the EAA said.
But if these two institutions do not have the information, then agents are bound to clearly state that data is not available. In sales agreements, information on salable area must be equally prominent with that concerning the gross floor area, the EAA circular said.
The government is currently proposing legislation requiring net salable area of all new homes be stated clearly.
The EAA's guidelines, issued yesterday, would require the same practice for secondary homes, said William Leung Wing-cheung, chairman of the EAA's practice and examination committee.
The Residential Properties Bill concerning primary market home sales is now under discussion in the Legislative Council.
It proposes to make developers quote prices of new flats based on salable area, rather than gross floor area.
The maximum penalty for breaching the regulation will be a HK$5 million fine and up to seven years' imprisonment.
Centaline Property Agency, one of the four largest property agencies, welcomed the new scheme.
But Louis Chan Wing-kit, head of residential sales at Centaline, urged the government to take more time before implementing the measures.
And Ricacorp Properties executive director Willy Liu Wai-keung warned: "This is adding burden to our operating cost. Around 1.1 million properties are on the market now.
"At HK$9 per property search, it will cost around HK$10 million for the whole industry."
The estimate does not include additional human resources required and the cost of upgrading computer systems and the reprinting of promotional materials, he said, adding that smaller agencies would suffer the most.
But Robert Lam, who works at Ming Rise Property, a small agency in Lam Tin, noted: "I don't find it that difficult to bear. The cost is reasonable, and it is for the long term."