Tourists and day trippers coming straight from the ferry usually have a routine. They walk out, trip over fallen bicycles in the pier, go "wah" at the beach and mountains and then head for the real estate agents to check out property prices. Yes, prices may have more than doubled in five years, according to the SCMP, but you can still get a fairly decent flat for under HK$2 million.
When we first announced we were moving to Mui Wo a year back, people asked: "Where's that?" (Partly because they probably couldn't understand our wonky pronunciation). Now, they want to know: "So how do we go around buying a place there?" The town is coming up and, this being Hong Kong, a lot of people want a piece of the action.
There are four estate agents here, all within a stone's throw of each other. Everyone in town told us that, Mui Wo being such a small place, the agents would all be selling the same flats. But we checked all of them out all the same. And this is what we found:
Lantau Home Solutions (www.homesolutions.hk) is the most high end of the lot. Jennifer, the owner, is extremely knowledgeable and she is the only one who quotes in nett square feet rather than gross, as almost all property agents in Hong Kong are wont to. The downside is that, if you're looking for something below HK$2 million, they don't have many listings. They deal mainly with single village house sales.
Findley Leung (www.findleyleung.com.hk) is possibly the biggest of the mass market agents. It has listings from HK$500,000 studios all the way to HK$12 million houses. Alice is friendly and will try and get you the best price. She will even do things like help you talk to potential neighbours so you can get a feel of the area. The trick, however, is finding her as she handles the sales for places like Tung Chung too so she's hardly ever in office.
Easy Reach (www.easyreach.com.hk) has some of the lowest quoted prices in town. But its website is not updated frequently and, when we emailed our enquiry, Helen took a few days to answer the email. Alice and Jennifer responded within the day with a list of flats to look at so we went with the more enthusiastic agents.
Proper Trip (www.propertrip.com.hk) has a most unprepossessing office but it actually manages a lot of the developments in Mui Wo. Whenever we walked in, there were no agents around so we tried emailing but no one answered. So we just gave up. Pity really, as it had the biggest variety of real-estate on the market.