Name: Charles Slater
Occupation: Real Estate Agent – Habitat Property
Hometown: Brisbane, Australia
Current Residence: Hong Kong 1.5 years and China 5years beforehand
A drink that describes you: I want to say Scotch on the rocks but as the sweatiest person in Asia I should probably make that a Hot Toddy.
Real Estate Agent and Junk boat enthusiast Charlie Slater made the move to Hong Kong a year and a half ago after some time up in the mainland. Now working in the real estate industry here, we picked Charlie’s brain for tips and tricks on the monopoly game that is the HK residential property market and learnt about his love of adventuring outside the high-rises.
What were you doing before you moved to HK?
Before moving to HK I was living and working in Shanghai.
How did you come to work in HK?
I have family here so I was in and out of the city a lot when I was living in China. I always had a great time here when I was visiting, so when a job opportunity popped up I jumped at it. That job turned out to be a disaster, but I loved living here and when a fantastic opportunity with Habitat presented itself I decided to stick around.
What’s something you love about your job?
The people I get to work with!!! Habitat has a fantastic team AND by nature my job requires me to be constantly meeting new people. Our clientele are extremely diverse and many are new arrivals in HK.
A big part of what I do as an agent (beyond showing apartments) is introducing people to new neighbourhoods, talking them through the lifestyle benefits of different areas, and helping them visualize the kind of life they can build in a given location. I take enormous satisfaction in seeing people journey from apprehension as new arrivals, to being so excited about moving into their new home.
What’s the most challenging part about the job? Is language a difficult barrier or do you specialise in expat clients only?
I work with everyone, not just expats, but language isn’t such an issue in HK... The most challenging part of the job is figuring out what really makes the clients tick (aesthetics, space, location) and trying to translate that in to the best possible placement for them… HK house hunting always involves some compromises no matter what your budget!
What advice do you give to someone looking for a new flat, fresh off the boat? Things to look for in contracts or apartments?
In addition to the obvious location, space and finishes, I think it’s important to have good natural light or great lighting. I also think that it is important to look at who the landlord is – Big corporate landlords tend to be better at getting things fixed in a hurry if they break, but also tend to be less flexible in negotiations – also, a landlord who is very difficult to deal with in contract negotiations will probably be difficult to deal with if you have problems later on.
For contract negotiations the terms of the Break Clause are important, be careful about who is responsible for the maintenance and replacement of appliances, and who is responsible for broken windows caused by storm damage etc.
As someone who has gone through the process of looking for and moving flats yourself recently, what are some tips for making the shift?
Oooooh shameless self promotion time… Call me!!!… or call Habitat… Having an agent you enjoy working with will not only make the process of finding somewhere you love much easier, but a good agent will also have great local knowledge, help refer movers and contractors as necessary, set up your utilities, ensure the property is handed over in good condition, and make the transition into your new home as stress-free as possible. (www.habitat-property.com)
What do you do in your downtime?
Junk boats would have to get a mention here as some of my best days in HK have been out on the water, but I also love getting out on a weekend Hike, hitting the beach at Shek-O, Wakeboarding below the Tai Tam reservoir, and exploring the seemingly endless HK restaurant scene.
Last restaurant that knocked you for a six?
There’s no way I could pick one place, but the beef short rib at Ho Lee Fook in Elgin Street is pretty hard to beat, the whole salt crusted fish at Cha Cha Wan in Hollywood Road is amazing, and the beef brisket noodle soup at Kau Kee in Gough Street is a super cheap must-try local gem!!! Oooooh and while you’re in Gough Street you should pick up dessert from Oddies, or a doughnut from Munchies up the stairs on Shin Hing… I should probably eat more vegetables…
What’s something out of the ordinary you did recently here that you loved?
Not too out of the ordinary, but I recently made it to Lamma for the first time… it’s a relatively easy walk across the island (even with kids in tow) and no matter which way you cross, there’s a fantastic seafood feast available at either end.
What’s the most overrated thing in this city?
Most underrated thing?
Being surrounded by such a spectacular natural environment! About three quarters of Hong Kong’s land mass is undeveloped and not only is it incredibly beautiful (once you get out of the hustle and bustle of the urban areas) but getting outdoors here is so easy!!! I feel like you are never more than 10 minutes from a great hiking trail and after 3.5 years of living in doors in Shanghai, hiding from the pollution, I have an enormous appreciation for the ability to get outside again.