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Habitat Property Victoria Allan

Carving out a space in a monopolised property market

There are plenty of opportunities for small property developers to re-develop or refurbish small residential buildings in the local property market, according to Habitat Property managing director Victoria Allan.

Prior to founding the boutique real estate agency in 2001, Allan was director of commercial leasing at multinational real estate agency Colliers Jardine, now known as Colliers International, in Hong Kong.

“Big property developers aren’t interested in small residential projects because these are too small for them – they want scale. But not everyone wants to live in sprawling residential estates,” Allan said.

That’s why in addition to hiring 15 property agents to rent out and sell high-end property on Hong Kong Island, the boutique agency unveiled its first refurbished building in Kennedy Town on Friday targeting the same luxury apartment market.

It is a former eight-storey tenement building that featured a garage on the ground floor. A second redevelopment project by the agency, also in Kennedy Town, is under way.

Unlike most real estate agency giants, Habitat property has one office in Central and no ground-level stores with which to recruit clients.

60% of the agency’s customers come from referrals and the agency relies on its own digital listings of apartments and houses to get new business.  This works for the agency’s customer base, 80% of which are expatriates or mainland Chinese customers.

In the next six to eight weeks, the agency will revamp its digital property listings featuring less content per listing and larger photographs.

“We want to take out reviews of houses and apartments and simply display factual information in our listings.  We also want to make the website more visually appealing,” Allan said.

The website revamp will be consistent with the migration of Hong Kong customers towards mobile and picture-heavy social media platforms like Facebook and Instgram.

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