Decoding 萬 in Hong Kong real estate adverts

Real estate agents are something you find everywhere in the world – and Hong Kong is no different. However the way they go about business is different, as these photos show.

Can you find which agent to call about leasing this empty shop in Tsim Sha Tsui? There is at least half a dozen different phone numbers on these posters.

Who do I call to lease this place?

As for the windows of the real estate agents, this one at Stanley on Hong Kong Island doesn’t look any different to those in Australia: presumably aimed at the expatriate market all of the advertisements are in English only.

Real estate window in Stanley, Hong Kong

As for the prices…

  • Cheapest place? How about a 1,052 sq ft three bedroom apartment for HK$14.9 million (US$1.9 million)
  • Most expensive? Something a bit fancier: a 3,980 sq ft four bedroom house for HK$130 million (US$16.6 million)

Given that this agency was in the main shopping area of Stanley I am assuming these properties are middle of the road for the area, and there are still some even more expensive properties in the area but are only advertised to those in the know.

In the suburb of Kennedy Town on the other side of Hong Kong Island I photographed another real estate agency window. This time the adverts are aimed at the locals, with the only English being the name of the building each apartment is located in.

Real estate window in Kennedy Town, Hong Kong

As for the number in each ad – first number is the size of the apartment in square feet, while the second number is the sale price – with a twist.

Real estate adverts in Hong Kong

On seeing the price – “560萬” in the top left advert – I was at first very confused. HK$560,000 (US$71,000) would be very cheap for any Hong Kong apartment, while a figure of HK560,000,000 (US$71 million) comes across as an unachievable purchase for a normal person!

However when one looks up the meaning of 萬 everything comes clear. The Chinese character for myriad, 萬 represents 10,000 – nothing to do with the customary 1,000 grouping of digits used in the western world. When the 萬 is applied to my 666 sq ft example apartment, you can see that it is selling for the much more reasonable HK$5,600,000 (US$718,000).

The use of 萬 also appears in this real estate agency in the working class suburb of Hong Kong. Here you can buy a 1,335 sq ft apartment for HK$12.7 million (US$1.6 million)

Real estate window in San Po Kong, Hong Kong

Now that you can read property advertisements in Hong Kong and can buy an apartment, I could go on to confuse you all over again by describing the local system of land tenure – but that is a story for another time!

Further reading

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3 Responses to Decoding 萬 in Hong Kong real estate adverts

  1. Mike says:

    Thanks for this post, although for us, about three weeks late. During the past two visits to HK, have been trying to decode the property prices enigma and failing badly. Would love to know about lease costs etc – would be a great place to spend three or six months in.

  2. xahldera says:

    Mike, try this site for info about living in Hong Kong: http://www.batgung.com/

  3. no cheese says:

    A useful post. I knew the meaning of that character but always found it confusing.

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