Buyers size up lifelike Hermitage show flat

HONG KONG: There was not a glass wall to be seen, the doors were all in place and visitors were even given a tape measure on arrival.

Potential buyers at the first major residential project regulated by tighter measures on sales tactics were greeted yesterday with a layout and finish identical to a real 1,003 sq ft flat.

While the sale of The Hermitage in Tai Kok Tsui has yet to be launched, the developers have already set up an unfurnished and unmodified mock-up flat according to the government guidelines.

Co-developed by Sino Land, Chinese Estate Holdings and Nan Fung Group, the project will deliver 964 flats upon construction.

It is the first major, uncompleted project regulated by a raft of government measures to make flat sales more buyer-friendly starting from June 1.

Among other things, the measures ask developers to set up unmodified show flats, release price lists at least three days before sale and put more flats on the market in the first sales batch to limit the potential for price manipulation.

Metre-long paper measurement tapes were distributed yesterday as visitors reached the doorstep of the show flat set up in a nearby shopping mall. Glass partitions once used to give the illusion of space were replaced by wood, brick-like walls separating the three bedrooms and the living room. All the rooms came with a door.

The balcony and the utility platform were set up with railings of the same height as the actual flat. The ceiling was set at its exact height of 11 feet and 4 inches. Visitors were allowed to take photos.

One visitor said: "This is much better as I see now that a 1,000 sq ft flat isn't really very big.

"The smallest bedroom doesn't have enough space for a wardrobe after you put in a bed. Maybe you need to raise the floor and store clothes underneath," she said.

One man said it would be better if there were also unmodified flats for the smaller-sized units.

"We all know that the master bedroom of this 1,000 sq ft flat can accommodate a standard double bed," he said.

"It's more important that the 500 or 600 sq ft flats are mocked up without alterations."

About 20% of the project's flats are smaller than 980 sq ft, ranging in gross floor area from studio flats of 375 and 415 sq ft to the two-bedroom property of 708 sq ft.

Now that the set-ups are more accurate, estate agents have a harder job winning over clients unhappy with the small bedrooms.

"The ceiling is so high, you could put a bunk-bed in," one agent said.

Another agent suggested: "You could make use of the bay window and place the desk over it."

The sales department of Sino Land said a few more showrooms would be open very soon, and they would come with alterations and decorations. -- South China Morning Post
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