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How to Mitigate Risk in Commercial Real Estate Investment in Hong Kong

Hong Kong - Commercial Real Estate Investment

Risks are prevalent in every investment or business venture. Actually, there is no business venture that is immune to business risks as well as other external risks.  Real estate investment is not to be spared. The extent of the risks varies from one type of real estate investment to the other. It is the percentage of risks involved that dictate the suitability of a specific type of real estate investment. Like the common adage goes ‘the higher the attractiveness of the returns on investment, the higher the risks involved'.  Real estate investment attracts higher rewards and consequently higher risk.

1997-2003 can be remembered as the worst economic period of the real estate market in Hong Kong. It was a period that led to the real estate bubble in the country which was largely attributed to the financial crisis in Asia. The property market has since recovered. But, this cannot be used as a metric to rule out future risks. Investors should always manage their investment in readiness for the inevitable which is not easier to predict.

It should be noted that prior to the 1997 property bubble in Hong Kong, there were some investors who foresaw, the housing crisis and they were able to avert the risks and losses associated with it before the market crashed. Yet, risks are known to take even seasoned investors by a surprise. You never know what the future holds and that why you need to be prepared for the eventuality.

In the mitigation of risks in real estate investments, investors need to understand the risks involved in the type of investment that they prefer. Property investment is categorized in various types that include retail real estate investment, residential investment, commercial investment, industrial investment and office investment. In these different types, there are various activities that take place in the investment that includes land assembly, property development, lease agreements, financing, and the sale of the property. All these activities pose different types of risks.

Several types of risks are common in property investment in Hong Kong and across the globe including:

Revenue risks-these represent the dangers that may threaten the revenue generated from an investment causing a drop in income. Some determinant includes economic factors such inflation rates, fluctuation in prices, changes in taxation policies, fluctuation of interest rates, changes in rent levels and sales/ costs of sales.

Land exploitation risks- these risks are primarily related to the environment and the depletion of the resources obtained from the investment such a depletion of resources mined.

Legal risks- these entail potential lawsuits that may arise due to non-compliance to agreements/ contracts between parties, adjustments of land zoning and the risks of having to buy assets from the third party in order to acquire a land position.

Valuation risks- these concerns risks that may devalue real estate assets lower than the acquisition costs. The determinant could be changed in market preferences, insecurity etc

Development risks- these concerns the risks that pertain to the building and construction of real estate property such as the price, architectural design, quality etc

Political risks- these are brought about by changes in government policies, political regimes and regulations such as taxation

Duration risks- these are usually influenced by other risks and may stall a project or the sale of real estate property such as a lawsuit pending determination.

Generally, commercial investment is considered as the riskiest investment in the property market. Unlike other types of real estate investments where it is common for one player to own the equity of the investors, commercial investments attract multiple financiers, hence multiple equity players; and, consequently, multiple market influencers because individual investors have their own unique risk profile and investment strategy which has an important significance in the overall investment. The players in commercial real estate may involve individual persons, corporations, trusts, pension funds, the government and foreign investors. The financing of the equity involved is also widely varied and the variations include private financing by individuals, mortgage financing, public financing, government funding, pension funding etc, which may affect the market volatility and variables of the investment.

When you are looking forward to investing in commercial real estate in Hong Kong or you have already invested, you need to be able to avoid risks. But, it is rather difficult for an investor, especially a first-time investor to avoid risks. Therefore, the investors should be ready to undertake a calculative risk. A calculative risk is one that enables the investor to factor in the probabilities of success while investing.  It is critical for you to understand the variables of the types of risks associated with commercial real estate investment in Hong Kong. You also have to research and evaluate the exposure of the risks involved.

The risks can be mitigated by understanding how the determinants of the risks affect the investment assets. There are two strategies that have been proven effective in mitigating risks associated with real estate investment and they include a stringent monitoring and evaluation system as well as adopting a stringent monitoring policy.

This article explores some of the measures that can be used to mitigate real estate investment risks in Hong Kong.

Stringent Investment Policy

    • Making Due Diligence in Property Valuation


The basis of success in property market lies in the ability of an investor to accurately and confidently determine the current and future value of the real estate assets that are traded in the market. However accurate valuation of the assets should never be construed as the prediction of the market dynamics. Market dynamics in commercial investments are determined by market shifts that involve a mix of several variables such as market fragmentation, changes in investors and a mix of assets of heterogeneous quality, just to mention a few. These variables contribute to the volatility of the market and affect its cyclical nature. Thus the market is highly unpredictable arguing that the best strategy is to take precautions even after accurate valuation of the assets.

One of the best ways of avoiding risks is to make a good inspection of the property that you intend to purchase. Of course, most investors research and do their homework before investing. They have to analyze different variables and market influencers so that they are certain that there are little pressures and minimal risk exposures to their portfolio. Yet, the changing dynamics of commercial investment may be immune to the investigation done and still expose the investment to risks. You need to research and carry out a through property valuation exercise.

Property valuation falls under the strategy of deploying a stringent investment policy. It calls for the involvement of various professionals who have expertise in various variables of commercial investment. You have to bring on board investment managers and real estate professional managers. Investment managers have the role of investing in a manner that promotes the growth of the equity value of your investment portfolio. They undertake to investigate and value a commercial investment and develop investing strategies before deciding on the manner in which they will allocate money to a set of investment assets. On the other hand, they have the sole duty of managing your investment assets and giving sound advice according to the performance and value objectives of the investment assets after property valuation. They help in enhancing the operability utility of investment assets by predicting or determining the occupancy rate.

You need to realize that property valuation is the initial step of the real investment. If you go wrong at this stage, you definitely may face difficulties in managing your assets profitably.  During this stage, you need to be well informed of what you staking your money at. You will have to evaluate the cost-benefit of the investment. With reliable professionals on board, you don't have to worry much about going wrong.

  • Carry Out a Proper Financial Investigation


Commercial investments require huge funding and thus multiple shareholders may be involved in a single investment. Before investing, you need to evaluate the costs involved as well as your financing options available. It is prudent to bring in a pool of professionals to assist you in doing the proper investigation. Two professionals are needed at this stage: a mortgage broker and a real estate accountant.

The mortgage broker has the responsibility of advising and securing the best terms of mortgage financing. They have a duty of researching the best financing option available n the market and assisting you in the application as well as repayment of the mortgages. It is imperative that you do not go wrong here because you could end up stuck with high-interest rates than your returns on investment. On the other hand, you need to bring on board a property accountant. The accountant will help you in the analysis and interpretation of financial data as well as in the preparation of necessary financial reports and simulations that will guide your investment decisions.  They also should help you in the development of taxation strategies for your investment.

The accountant is also helpful in ensuring that you use the most suitable objective measurement metrics such as the internal rate of returns, net present value etc to make conclusions on the feasibility of an investment. The accountant should determine accurate total costs involved taking into account economic changes that induce inflation, price fluctuations and demand & supply of the investment assets.

You should not be easily convinced to believe any financial documents or pro forma provided by the seller unless your accountant has verified them after a thorough examination.

  • Carry Out a Legal Investigation


Commercial property can attract potential legal risks that you need to be aware of before purchasing the property. You need to get in touch with an attorney who can help to detect any legal threats that the property poses. Among the things that you need to consider include:

  • Any abnormalities on the title and survey of the property
  • Potential environmental hazards that could attract legal implications
  • Encroachments that threaten the property
  • Discrepancies in the agreement contracts
  • Tenants' leases and the leasing periods- For the tenant leases, ensure that they are reviewed and updated because you will also be purchasing the leases when you buy the property.


An attorney has the responsibly of undertaking thorough investigations to determine any potential legal risks that may affect your investment. They have to evaluate the other stakeholders involved in the investment and ascertain the suitability of the investment by ensuring that it is not subject, presently and in the future, to legal sanctions.

The attorney has a responsibility of ensuring the completeness and accuracy of any agreement contracts that include lease contracts, pre-lease contracts, sales contracts, pre-sale contracts, tenancy agreements etc. They must ensure that the contracts and agreements are well drafted and comply with all set regulations.

Monitoring System

  • Phasing Strategies


One of the most valuable methods of mitigating risks involves the monitoring and evaluation of the market with the intention of deploying the phasing strategy according the stages of the market cycles.  This strategy involves a gradual process of deploying the equity capital in relative manageable rates/installments periodically rather than investing the full amount at once.

The essence of this model is to invest in stage whiles studying the market. Each investment installment is deployed after the former has proven successful. Using this method, you are able to determine the indicators that affect investment in different stages. Remember that we said that real investment risks are cyclical and thus, you will be studying their effects during the various cycles before planning on the next investment model.

Additionally, commercial investment assets have their life cycles too. You need to investigate and evaluate the profitable life cycles and the triggers of the profitability at a given cycle. You will also have to classify the risks involved in the different lifecycles and determine the influencers of the risks. This strategy will help you manipulate the risks to your advantage.

When monitoring the cycles of the investment one variable that you need to keenly investigate is your leverage. You need to be able to establish if the money that you borrowed for the investment is making any meaningful impact by providing good returns as well as being able to service the financing. Through the different lifecycles, try to establish if the leverage is growing by evaluating the equity value of your real estate property. Identify the times when returns are high as well as when the market shrinks. This helps you to know the best times to exit and liquidate assets profitably without affecting the amount of financing that you had acquired.

  • Portfolio Diversification


Another important method of mitigating commercial investments risks in Hong Kong is through portfolio diversification. Essentially, this is the spreading of risks through investing in multiple commercial investment assets rather than in a single asset. You need to develop a clear investment strategy that will enable you to spread the risks involves in your investment through having a number of assets in your portfolios. It is advisable for you to work closely with experienced property management professionals or a real estate investment company that will help you in the management of risks through the acquisition of various assets. The ability to reduce the liability that results from disasters is beneficial in helping you grow your investment without the worry of future losses.

You need to have clear objectives that enable you to invest in various profitable assets after a certain period. You should never have all your eggs in one basket no matter how profitable the investment is presently. The future could always change thus portending doom to your investment in case a risk strikes and your current investment becomes affected hence resulting in massive losses.

Through the lifecycle of the property assets, you need to monitor how the various assets that you have acquired are doing in the market. Establish those that are better performing as well as those that are poorly performing; also establish the assets that seem profitable in the long-run as well as those profitable presently and in the short-term. This will help you determine the less risky assets that should largely comprise your portfolio.

Also, remember to always liquidate assets that you find are not profitable and instead of divulging the cash to other assets that promise long-term returns. By so doing, you will be in a position to cushion you entire investment from a shock that could potentially reduce the value of an asset when disaster strikes.

Provide an Insurance Cover for Your Investment
One mistake that most investors make is failing to insure their investment against risks. Of course, insurance expenses usually reduce the returns on investment but it is worth it. Insurance helps to cushion your investment against market crashes and shocks that could potentially affect the investment. The ability to be indemnified after a disaster strike makes sense on the reason why it is vital for you to seek a comprehensive insurance cover for your investment.

Final Words…
Although property investment has been making a killing in Hong Kong, an investor should never fall for get-rich-quick investment opportunities made up by rogue people. Being too greedy to get good returns on property investment can lead to frustrations because it does not work that way. As a matter of fact, property investment requires a lot of money and years of patience especially during the first years when an investor will be realizing negative income as one pays for the financing and other expenses before the property breaks even. This means that during these years, one should have an alternative source of income to depend on and not on the real estate property income.

Proper due diligence is an ideal tool that can help you to mitigate the risks that are involved in commercial real estate investment. It is important to use the services of professionals who have wide experience in the specific fields. For instance, if you need to get an attorney to help you in legal investigations, do not hire a family attorney, but you need to be specific about hiring an attorney who has specialized in the field of land and property law.

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Engel & Völkers Hong Kong, Real Estate Agency
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This data protection information applies to the use of the website https://www.engelvoelkers.com/hongkong/ (hereinafter referred to as “website”) and the Property Search App, a mobile application for property searches (hereinafter referred to as “property app”) and is valid from 25 May 2018.

The following information applies to both the website and the property app, unless expressly stated otherwise.

 

Engel & Völkers VJI Limited in its function of responsible authority (hereinafter also referred to as “Engel & Völkers”) informs its users that

by using the website, personal data about them will be processed, in particular:

●    personal data (e.g. e-mail address, first name, surname, title, address, telephone number – in the following “Data” or “Personal data”) provided by users at the time of registration on the website (e.g. in connection with contact requests and mailing of newsletters);

●    personal data transferred from the user’s internet browser each time the user accesses the website is stored within log files, also known as server logs. This data comprises: IP address (Internet protocol address) of the accessing computer; name of the accessed site; date and time of access; related URL from which the user accesses the site; number of transferred data items; status report of successful access; session ID number.

by using the property app, personal data about them will be processed, in particular:

●    e-mail address, first name, surname, title, address, telephone number provided by users at the time of sending an enquiry;

●    Whenever the app is accessed, the usage data of the respective app user is saved. This data comprises: operating system used and, if applicable, the browser type, current language setting of the smartphone, information about the Internet service provider of the user, name of the retrieved page and, if applicable, the origin page, date and time of retrieval, amount of data transmitted, status report on whether the retrieval was successful, session identification number.

Purpose of processing

Engel & Völkers, as a responsible authority,

processes the personal data of website users for the following purposes:

●    Fulfilment of user’s requests (legal basis is contract performance and the legitimate interest of Engel & Völkers in transferring contact requests within the Engel & Völkers Group to the appropriate company. The above “Engel & Völkers Group” comprises Engel & Völkers AG and its domestic and foreign associated companies in terms of the German Companies Act Sec. 15 ff, and the (master) licensees affiliated with this group of companies. A current listing of these licensees can be obtained here: https://www.engelvoelkers.com/de/unternehmen/standorte/);

●    The forwarding of e-mail newsletters on the company’s own offers and advertising by the company or third parties to the legally permissible extent or based on consent. (Legal basis is the legitimate interest of Engel & Völkers in direct marketing, providing this is in accordance with the data protection and competition rules);

●    Analysis of the website for determining user behaviour. (Legal basis is the legitimate interest of Engel & Völkers in analysing user behaviour on our website for the purpose of continuously improving this or adapting it to the interests of our users);

●    Identification and possible blocking of users who have installed a so-called adblocker and who thereby block advertising. (Legal basis is the legitimate interest of Engel & Völkers of providing users who do not block advertising with wholly or partially web-financed offers);

●    In order to prevent fraudulent activities or misuse on the website or in connection with the website and to observe the legal stipulations for safe websites. (Legal basis is the legitimate interest of Engel & Völkers in remedying errors, guaranteeing system security and identifying impermissible access or access attempts.)

The legal basis for the processing of personal data is GDPR Article 6(1)(a), if the processing is based on consent, Article 6(1)(b) if the basis for processing is a contractual relationship and Article 6(1)(f) if the basis is the legitimate interests of Engel & Völkers.

processes the personal data of property app users for the following purposes:

●      Fulfilment of the requests of the app users (legal basis of the data collection is the consent of the user in accordance with Art. 6(1)(a) EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)). Analysis of the property app to determine usage behaviour (legal basis is the legitimate interest of Engel & Völkers in analysing user behaviour in our property app for the purpose of continuously improving this or adapting it to the interests of our users);

Nature of supply of personal data and consequences of objection

The personal data is voluntarily provided by users. They may freely decide whether to make personal data available to Engel & Völkers and may subsequently withdraw their consent from the processing of personal data which have already been made available. Withdrawal may mean that the Engel & Völkers website is no longer usable.

Processing methods

Users’ personal data may only be processed in case of need and processing will be performed electronically only, in particular by way of: gathering, registration, organisation, storage, consultancy, processing, amendment, selection, extraction, comparison, use, interconnection, access and communication, blocking, deletion and destruction of the data. Processing may be carried out electronically or non-electronically.

Access to data

The personal data is processed by Engel & Völkers and (in respect of individual items) particularly by

●    Employees (permanent employees such as job-holders and independent property consultants) and consultants authorised to administer the website and property app and provide the associated services;

●    Third-party supplier companies (e.g. IT service providers, hosting providers, etc.) to which Engel & Völkers has outsourced processing services as part of a job processing agreement.

Information about the data

As the responsible authority we are able to provide information about your personal data. However, this information may only be given for the following reasons:

·       In the case of fulfilment of legal obligations or obligations arising from regulations and guidelines under national or European laws.

·       For defence in court in the case of a legal dispute.

Disclosure of data

If your query relates to offers from other companies of the Engel & Völkers Group, Engel & Völkers transfers the personal data entered by you in this case to the respective company from the Engel & Völkers Group with your prior consent or on the basis of its legitimate interests.[A10]  Other than this, your personal data will not be disclosed by Engel & Völkers.

Disclosure of data in non-EEA countries

In principle, Engel & Völkers does not transfer personal data to non-EEA countries without your consent. The servers used by Engel & Völkers are located within the European Union.

If your query relates to companies of the Engel & Völkers Group outside the European Union, we communicate your data under your consent.

In cases where personal data is transferred to countries that do not offer the same level of protection as within the European Union and you have not expressly agreed to the transfer of your data to those countries by way of your consent, Engel & Völkers will ensure that certain contractual obligations under applicable data protection law (including the execution of standard contractual clauses approved by the European Commission) are agreed with each service provider, unless Engel & Völkers can invoke other legal grounds for the transfer of personal data.

Saving and deleting of data

Engel & Völkers saves personal data for the time necessary for achieving the purposes for which the data was gathered and processed, including any storage period stipulated under the applicable legislation (e.g. retention of bookkeeping vouchers) and in any case for a maximum of 24 months [A11] after the personal data was gathered.

Use of cookies

Use of cookies on the website

In order to improve website browsing, Engel & Völkers uses “cookies”. Cookies are small text files, generally consisting of letters and numbers, stored on the user’s web browser on their PC and containing pseudonymised data. Cookies allow a website to recognise the user’s computer in order to follow searches made on several pages of a website and to identify users who return to a website. Cookies may have technical, analytical or profiling purposes.

The direct and indirect cookies used by Engel & Völkers are summarised here: https://www.engelvoelkers.com/en-de/privacy-policy-ag/doc/ev_cookies_lp.pdf.

The website uses the following technical cookies:

For storing language selection _icl_visitor_lang_js, _icl_current_language, evlocale.For storing selection of measuring units engelundvoelkersconfig.For storing last search requests LAST_SEARCH.For storing the watchlist ID watchlist_id.For storing test reference within AB tests user_ab.For storing references to distributed systems in load balancers BIGipServergroup-rz-webfe-prod.

Engel & Völkers informs users that they may deactivate or remove cookies in their web browser by following the instructions on the following links:

●      Internet Explorer ((https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/help/17442/windows-internet-explorer-delete-manage-cookies).

●      Mozilla Firefox (https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/delete-cookies-remove-info-websites-stored).

●      Safari (https://support.apple.com/kb/PH19214?viewlocale=en_US&locale=de_DE).

The website also uses analytical cookies set by third-party providers, e.g. Google (see also provisions on use of analysis programs and tracking tools) and Adroll (https://www.adroll.com/de-DE/about) /Privatsphäre) and Haufe (https://de.onlinehelp.umantis.com/index.php/Cookies).

In more detail:

a)       Google Analytics

Engel & Völkers uses the web analytics service Google Analytics from Google Inc. (“Google”) for analysing the use of websites. The information generated by cookies about the use of websites is generally transferred to a Google server in the USA and stored there. Engel & Völkers uses Google Analytics solely with the extension "ga ('set', 'anonymizeIp', true)", in order to ensure that IP addresses are only processed in a shortened version and in order to prevent direct references to individual persons. Google may transfer data to third parties if this is prescribed by law or if third parties process these data on behalf of Google. Google will not publish the IP address of the user in connection with other Google data. Users may at any time prevent the recording and storage of data by Google Analytics, by installing a Google-approved browser plug-in which can be downloaded from the following link: https://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout?hl=de.

b)       Universal Analytics

Engel & Völkers uses the Universal Analytics functions provided by Google. These functions allow Engel & Völkers to record and analyse socio-demographic data about users by means of a Google ID (if available) and by means of cookies generated by Google from advertising contents (DoubleClick). If a Google ID is available, the data controller will be able to record this data across all devices (e.g. if users have both a smartphone and a PC) for analysing visitor flows across all devices. Users may at any time prevent the recording and storage of data by Google Analytics by installing a Google-approved browser plug-in which can be downloaded from the following link: https://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout?hl=de.

This website does not use profiling cookies.

Use of cookies and other tracking in the Property App

Engel & Völkers needs statistical information on the use of the Property App to make it more user-friendly. For this purpose, Engel & Völkers deploys the following analysis tools. The providers of the tools process data, where personal data are processed, as a processor in accordance with the instructions of Engel & Völkers.

To find out which other cookies the Property App uses click here: https://www.engelvoelkers.com/en-de/privacy-policy-ag/doc/ev_cookies_lp.pdf.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is provided by Google Inc., 1600 Amphitheater Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA (“Google”). We use Google Analytics with the additional feature offered by Google to anonymise IP addresses: In this case, Google's IP address is usually already shortened within the EU and only in exceptional cases in the US and in any case only saved in abbreviated form. The privacy policy can be viewed here: https://privacy.google.com/businesses/processorterms/

                               

If you want to opt out of Google Analytics tracking, go to your system settings and disable Google Analytics access in the Tracking section of the “Engel & Völkers Property Search” app.

If you want to opt out of tracking Google Analytics on Android, go to the app settings and disable Google Analytics access.

HockeyApp

HockeyApp is provided by Microsoft (Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052-6399, USA). We use HockeyApp for error analyses and to improve the property app. If it crashes, the user may agree to submit a crash report to HockeyApp. A crash report includes information about the crash date and time, the affected software module, the operating system and language used, and the device type and IP address. The crash report will only be sent to HockeyApp once this has been specifically approved. The information contained in the crash report may be partially processed in the United States. HockeyApp is a service from Microsoft. Legal information about it can be found here: 

https://azure.microsoft.com/de-de/support/legal/.

The privacy policy can be viewed here: 

https://www.microsoft.com/de-de/privacystatement/OnlineServices/Default.aspx

Crashlytics

Crashlytics is an analysis tool offered and operated by Crashlytics Inc., based in Cambridge, MA, USA. Crashlytics generates crash reports, i.e. reports about malfunctions or failures of the app, where and in which context these have occurred, how many users of the app are affected, etc. Engel & Völkers uses these reports to detect malfunctions or failures to be able to react faster, more purposefully and more efficiently in the interests of the users and to be able to improve the app technically. For this purpose, Crashlytics, together with the user’s Symphony-related app ID, which can be deleted at any time, records data on the crash and on general data of the respective IT environment (in particular on the used device, the mobile service provider and the operating system). If personal or pseudonymous data is included, Crashlytics will delete it within seven days. This information will give Crashlytics and subsequently Engel & Völkers insight into whether and how the app works and is used, especially the malfunctions and failures that occur. Further information is available at try.crashlytics.com/terms/privacy-policy.pdf.

Links to social media pages

This website contains links to the main social media network sites (e.g. Facebook and Twitter). These are not embedded social media plug-ins, but a link through which no personal data is transmitted to the social media operators.

Rights of persons concerned

You have the right to information on the processing of your personal data (for example, the origin of this data, the processing purpose, the modalities of the data processing). Furthermore, on certain conditions, you are entitled, at any time, to object to data processing in the future, to limit it or to demand the deletion of the data. Finally, you can prevent the sending of advertising material or the implementation of market research or commercial communications at any time.

In summary, you have a right to

-       information,

-       correction,

-       deletion (or to be forgotten),

-       limitation of processing,

-       data portability,

-       objection to the processing of your personal data,

-       complaint to the supervisory authorities.

Please note that your right to deletion is subject to certain restrictions. For instance we need not or may not delete any data which we need to retain for a further period under a statutory retention period. Data needed by us for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims are also excepted from your right to deletion.

To exercise the above rights and to request information, users may write to the following e-mail address hongkongmmc@engelvoelkers.com[A12]  or postal address Engel & Völkers VJI Limited, [A13] Shop A, 95 Caine Road, Mid Level West, Hong Kong. Similarly, users may at any time withdraw consent to, correct and delete the processing of their data.

Contacts

The responsible authority for processing of data is Engel & Völkers VJI Limited, [A14] Shop A, 95 Caine Road, Mid Level West, Hong Kong. In the event of questions regarding our data processors, we are happy to make a current list of these available to you.

If you have a complaint regarding the way that we process your data, you have the opportunity to submit a complaint to the supervisory authority. This is: 

Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg

Hamburg’s representative for data protection and freedom of information

Prof. Dr. Johannes Caspar

Kurt-Schumacher-Allee 4, 20097 Hamburg

Mailbox@datenschutz.hamburg.de[A15] 

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Please enter the property information.

This data protection information applies to the use of the website https://www.engelvoelkers.com/hongkong/ (hereinafter referred to as “website”) and the Property Search App, a mobile application for property searches (hereinafter referred to as “property app”) and is valid from 25 May 2018.

The following information applies to both the website and the property app, unless expressly stated otherwise.

 

Engel & Völkers VJI Limited in its function of responsible authority (hereinafter also referred to as “Engel & Völkers”) informs its users that

by using the website, personal data about them will be processed, in particular:

●    personal data (e.g. e-mail address, first name, surname, title, address, telephone number – in the following “Data” or “Personal data”) provided by users at the time of registration on the website (e.g. in connection with contact requests and mailing of newsletters);

●    personal data transferred from the user’s internet browser each time the user accesses the website is stored within log files, also known as server logs. This data comprises: IP address (Internet protocol address) of the accessing computer; name of the accessed site; date and time of access; related URL from which the user accesses the site; number of transferred data items; status report of successful access; session ID number.

by using the property app, personal data about them will be processed, in particular:

●    e-mail address, first name, surname, title, address, telephone number provided by users at the time of sending an enquiry;

●    Whenever the app is accessed, the usage data of the respective app user is saved. This data comprises: operating system used and, if applicable, the browser type, current language setting of the smartphone, information about the Internet service provider of the user, name of the retrieved page and, if applicable, the origin page, date and time of retrieval, amount of data transmitted, status report on whether the retrieval was successful, session identification number.

Purpose of processing

Engel & Völkers, as a responsible authority,

processes the personal data of website users for the following purposes:

●    Fulfilment of user’s requests (legal basis is contract performance and the legitimate interest of Engel & Völkers in transferring contact requests within the Engel & Völkers Group to the appropriate company. The above “Engel & Völkers Group” comprises Engel & Völkers AG and its domestic and foreign associated companies in terms of the German Companies Act Sec. 15 ff, and the (master) licensees affiliated with this group of companies. A current listing of these licensees can be obtained here: https://www.engelvoelkers.com/de/unternehmen/standorte/);

●    The forwarding of e-mail newsletters on the company’s own offers and advertising by the company or third parties to the legally permissible extent or based on consent. (Legal basis is the legitimate interest of Engel & Völkers in direct marketing, providing this is in accordance with the data protection and competition rules);

●    Analysis of the website for determining user behaviour. (Legal basis is the legitimate interest of Engel & Völkers in analysing user behaviour on our website for the purpose of continuously improving this or adapting it to the interests of our users);

●    Identification and possible blocking of users who have installed a so-called adblocker and who thereby block advertising. (Legal basis is the legitimate interest of Engel & Völkers of providing users who do not block advertising with wholly or partially web-financed offers);

●    In order to prevent fraudulent activities or misuse on the website or in connection with the website and to observe the legal stipulations for safe websites. (Legal basis is the legitimate interest of Engel & Völkers in remedying errors, guaranteeing system security and identifying impermissible access or access attempts.)

The legal basis for the processing of personal data is GDPR Article 6(1)(a), if the processing is based on consent, Article 6(1)(b) if the basis for processing is a contractual relationship and Article 6(1)(f) if the basis is the legitimate interests of Engel & Völkers.

processes the personal data of property app users for the following purposes:

●      Fulfilment of the requests of the app users (legal basis of the data collection is the consent of the user in accordance with Art. 6(1)(a) EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)). Analysis of the property app to determine usage behaviour (legal basis is the legitimate interest of Engel & Völkers in analysing user behaviour in our property app for the purpose of continuously improving this or adapting it to the interests of our users);

Nature of supply of personal data and consequences of objection

The personal data is voluntarily provided by users. They may freely decide whether to make personal data available to Engel & Völkers and may subsequently withdraw their consent from the processing of personal data which have already been made available. Withdrawal may mean that the Engel & Völkers website is no longer usable.

Processing methods

Users’ personal data may only be processed in case of need and processing will be performed electronically only, in particular by way of: gathering, registration, organisation, storage, consultancy, processing, amendment, selection, extraction, comparison, use, interconnection, access and communication, blocking, deletion and destruction of the data. Processing may be carried out electronically or non-electronically.

Access to data

The personal data is processed by Engel & Völkers and (in respect of individual items) particularly by

●    Employees (permanent employees such as job-holders and independent property consultants) and consultants authorised to administer the website and property app and provide the associated services;

●    Third-party supplier companies (e.g. IT service providers, hosting providers, etc.) to which Engel & Völkers has outsourced processing services as part of a job processing agreement.

Information about the data

As the responsible authority we are able to provide information about your personal data. However, this information may only be given for the following reasons:

·       In the case of fulfilment of legal obligations or obligations arising from regulations and guidelines under national or European laws.

·       For defence in court in the case of a legal dispute.

Disclosure of data

If your query relates to offers from other companies of the Engel & Völkers Group, Engel & Völkers transfers the personal data entered by you in this case to the respective company from the Engel & Völkers Group with your prior consent or on the basis of its legitimate interests.[A10]  Other than this, your personal data will not be disclosed by Engel & Völkers.

Disclosure of data in non-EEA countries

In principle, Engel & Völkers does not transfer personal data to non-EEA countries without your consent. The servers used by Engel & Völkers are located within the European Union.

If your query relates to companies of the Engel & Völkers Group outside the European Union, we communicate your data under your consent.

In cases where personal data is transferred to countries that do not offer the same level of protection as within the European Union and you have not expressly agreed to the transfer of your data to those countries by way of your consent, Engel & Völkers will ensure that certain contractual obligations under applicable data protection law (including the execution of standard contractual clauses approved by the European Commission) are agreed with each service provider, unless Engel & Völkers can invoke other legal grounds for the transfer of personal data.

Saving and deleting of data

Engel & Völkers saves personal data for the time necessary for achieving the purposes for which the data was gathered and processed, including any storage period stipulated under the applicable legislation (e.g. retention of bookkeeping vouchers) and in any case for a maximum of 24 months [A11] after the personal data was gathered.

Use of cookies

Use of cookies on the website

In order to improve website browsing, Engel & Völkers uses “cookies”. Cookies are small text files, generally consisting of letters and numbers, stored on the user’s web browser on their PC and containing pseudonymised data. Cookies allow a website to recognise the user’s computer in order to follow searches made on several pages of a website and to identify users who return to a website. Cookies may have technical, analytical or profiling purposes.

The direct and indirect cookies used by Engel & Völkers are summarised here: https://www.engelvoelkers.com/en-de/privacy-policy-ag/doc/ev_cookies_lp.pdf.

The website uses the following technical cookies:

For storing language selection _icl_visitor_lang_js, _icl_current_language, evlocale.For storing selection of measuring units engelundvoelkersconfig.For storing last search requests LAST_SEARCH.For storing the watchlist ID watchlist_id.For storing test reference within AB tests user_ab.For storing references to distributed systems in load balancers BIGipServergroup-rz-webfe-prod.

Engel & Völkers informs users that they may deactivate or remove cookies in their web browser by following the instructions on the following links:

●      Internet Explorer ((https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/help/17442/windows-internet-explorer-delete-manage-cookies).

●      Mozilla Firefox (https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/delete-cookies-remove-info-websites-stored).

●      Safari (https://support.apple.com/kb/PH19214?viewlocale=en_US&locale=de_DE).

The website also uses analytical cookies set by third-party providers, e.g. Google (see also provisions on use of analysis programs and tracking tools) and Adroll (https://www.adroll.com/de-DE/about) /Privatsphäre) and Haufe (https://de.onlinehelp.umantis.com/index.php/Cookies).

In more detail:

a)       Google Analytics

Engel & Völkers uses the web analytics service Google Analytics from Google Inc. (“Google”) for analysing the use of websites. The information generated by cookies about the use of websites is generally transferred to a Google server in the USA and stored there. Engel & Völkers uses Google Analytics solely with the extension "ga ('set', 'anonymizeIp', true)", in order to ensure that IP addresses are only processed in a shortened version and in order to prevent direct references to individual persons. Google may transfer data to third parties if this is prescribed by law or if third parties process these data on behalf of Google. Google will not publish the IP address of the user in connection with other Google data. Users may at any time prevent the recording and storage of data by Google Analytics, by installing a Google-approved browser plug-in which can be downloaded from the following link: https://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout?hl=de.

b)       Universal Analytics

Engel & Völkers uses the Universal Analytics functions provided by Google. These functions allow Engel & Völkers to record and analyse socio-demographic data about users by means of a Google ID (if available) and by means of cookies generated by Google from advertising contents (DoubleClick). If a Google ID is available, the data controller will be able to record this data across all devices (e.g. if users have both a smartphone and a PC) for analysing visitor flows across all devices. Users may at any time prevent the recording and storage of data by Google Analytics by installing a Google-approved browser plug-in which can be downloaded from the following link: https://tools.google.com/dlpage/gaoptout?hl=de.

This website does not use profiling cookies.

Use of cookies and other tracking in the Property App

Engel & Völkers needs statistical information on the use of the Property App to make it more user-friendly. For this purpose, Engel & Völkers deploys the following analysis tools. The providers of the tools process data, where personal data are processed, as a processor in accordance with the instructions of Engel & Völkers.

To find out which other cookies the Property App uses click here: https://www.engelvoelkers.com/en-de/privacy-policy-ag/doc/ev_cookies_lp.pdf.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is provided by Google Inc., 1600 Amphitheater Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA (“Google”). We use Google Analytics with the additional feature offered by Google to anonymise IP addresses: In this case, Google's IP address is usually already shortened within the EU and only in exceptional cases in the US and in any case only saved in abbreviated form. The privacy policy can be viewed here: https://privacy.google.com/businesses/processorterms/

                               

If you want to opt out of Google Analytics tracking, go to your system settings and disable Google Analytics access in the Tracking section of the “Engel & Völkers Property Search” app.

If you want to opt out of tracking Google Analytics on Android, go to the app settings and disable Google Analytics access.

HockeyApp

HockeyApp is provided by Microsoft (Microsoft Corporation, One Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052-6399, USA). We use HockeyApp for error analyses and to improve the property app. If it crashes, the user may agree to submit a crash report to HockeyApp. A crash report includes information about the crash date and time, the affected software module, the operating system and language used, and the device type and IP address. The crash report will only be sent to HockeyApp once this has been specifically approved. The information contained in the crash report may be partially processed in the United States. HockeyApp is a service from Microsoft. Legal information about it can be found here: 

https://azure.microsoft.com/de-de/support/legal/.

The privacy policy can be viewed here: 

https://www.microsoft.com/de-de/privacystatement/OnlineServices/Default.aspx

Crashlytics

Crashlytics is an analysis tool offered and operated by Crashlytics Inc., based in Cambridge, MA, USA. Crashlytics generates crash reports, i.e. reports about malfunctions or failures of the app, where and in which context these have occurred, how many users of the app are affected, etc. Engel & Völkers uses these reports to detect malfunctions or failures to be able to react faster, more purposefully and more efficiently in the interests of the users and to be able to improve the app technically. For this purpose, Crashlytics, together with the user’s Symphony-related app ID, which can be deleted at any time, records data on the crash and on general data of the respective IT environment (in particular on the used device, the mobile service provider and the operating system). If personal or pseudonymous data is included, Crashlytics will delete it within seven days. This information will give Crashlytics and subsequently Engel & Völkers insight into whether and how the app works and is used, especially the malfunctions and failures that occur. Further information is available at try.crashlytics.com/terms/privacy-policy.pdf.

Links to social media pages

This website contains links to the main social media network sites (e.g. Facebook and Twitter). These are not embedded social media plug-ins, but a link through which no personal data is transmitted to the social media operators.

Rights of persons concerned

You have the right to information on the processing of your personal data (for example, the origin of this data, the processing purpose, the modalities of the data processing). Furthermore, on certain conditions, you are entitled, at any time, to object to data processing in the future, to limit it or to demand the deletion of the data. Finally, you can prevent the sending of advertising material or the implementation of market research or commercial communications at any time.

In summary, you have a right to

-       information,

-       correction,

-       deletion (or to be forgotten),

-       limitation of processing,

-       data portability,

-       objection to the processing of your personal data,

-       complaint to the supervisory authorities.

Please note that your right to deletion is subject to certain restrictions. For instance we need not or may not delete any data which we need to retain for a further period under a statutory retention period. Data needed by us for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims are also excepted from your right to deletion.

To exercise the above rights and to request information, users may write to the following e-mail address hongkongmmc@engelvoelkers.com[A12]  or postal address Engel & Völkers VJI Limited, [A13] Shop A, 95 Caine Road, Mid Level West, Hong Kong. Similarly, users may at any time withdraw consent to, correct and delete the processing of their data.

Contacts

The responsible authority for processing of data is Engel & Völkers VJI Limited, [A14] Shop A, 95 Caine Road, Mid Level West, Hong Kong. In the event of questions regarding our data processors, we are happy to make a current list of these available to you.

If you have a complaint regarding the way that we process your data, you have the opportunity to submit a complaint to the supervisory authority. This is: 

Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg

Hamburg’s representative for data protection and freedom of information

Prof. Dr. Johannes Caspar

Kurt-Schumacher-Allee 4, 20097 Hamburg

Mailbox@datenschutz.hamburg.de[A15] 

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