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Interview Series: Fascinating Engel & Völkers Colleagues from Around the World

Chris Liem

Paul & Vince would like to welcome to the conversation Chris Liem from Engel & Völkers Hong Kong.
What I enjoy most in real estate is my network. The network I have here in Hong Kong is the most valuable thing that I’ve ever created.

Paul & Vince would like to welcome Chris Liem, the license partner and head Private Advisor of Engel & Völkers Hong Kong.

Originally from Australia, Chris studied at the University of Technology, Sydney, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Finance. As a professional in the finance industry for more than a decade, Chris was a Vice President of Nomura International Hong Kong, a Vice President of Lehman Brothers Asia, and an Associate Director at Macquarie.


Paul & Vince: What are the best things about working in your area of the world?

Chris: Well, Hong Kong is an amazing place to do business. The major languages are English, Cantonese, and Mandarin. For many reasons, the density of corporations, CEOs, and ultra-high-net-worth individuals is extremely high. And it’s not unusual to meet these people just walking around. It’s a very friendly city. Safety is high, and 60% of it is a greenery and a national park.

Paul & Vince: As an Australian, are there any limitations to life in Hong Kong?

Chris:  No. You do whatever you want to do. There aren’t the same constraints as there are in a lot of other Asian countries. Hong Kong’s “can-do spirit”  means people don’t waste time; they have great energy, and they get it done.



Paul & Vince: What did you do before coming into real estate?

Chris: I grew up in Sydney, but my parents are of Indonesian and Chinese descent. I worked for investment banks and then eventually got sent to Hong Kong. I worked for the banks for a while, and then it was time for something new. I thought about how luxury offerings in Hong Kong were becoming a really big, macro trend. So, I thought, why not? I met the managers at E&V expanding into Asia, and it was a great fit.


Paul & Vince: So, what’s happening in the Hong Kong real estate market now?

Chris: In the past year or so, we’ve consciously decided to switch towards more commercial deals. We’ve just leased out a huge flagship gallery space in the Central neighborhood, a benchmark deal for Hong Kong.  The residential market has been particularly tough here, especially in the secondary market. Taxes here for non-residents to purchase a property is 30%. I mean, you could buy an entire suburb in Australia for a condo in Hong Kong. But aside from that, the cost of living here is surprisingly low.


Paul & Vince: We know that your market took a beating during the pandemic – even more than most places –– so it can’t have been easy. But what do you like most about your career now?

Chris: Well, yes, we’ve had a rough few years, with the riots and the lockdowns. Now, it’s back open again. We’ve seen a lot of executives and analysts being transferred here again. A lot of ex-pats who left are now returning. So, business is improving. But honestly, what I enjoy most in real estate is my network. The network I have here in Hong Kong is the most valuable thing that I’ve ever created. People here want to know who’s a good recommendation, and how to solve a problem. I like to solve problems.

Certainly, many connections are made at the different clubs in Hong Kong – whether it’s the yacht club, the Jockey Club, or the Hong Kong Club, it’s all about connecting. I’m even a member of the Ladies Recreation Club! [Laughs]

…and one more, Just for Fun

Paul & Vince: So, now it’s time for our Just For Fun question. You have a choice: would you rather go into the future and meet your great-great-great grandchildren, or travel back in time to meet your ancestors?

Chris: Well, I’ve got a lot of ancestors…I’m sixth-generation Indonesian Chinese, and then I’ve got a lot of cousins. I was actually born in Jakarta. But you know, the Chinese in Indonesia were always considered the trading class.

Paul & Vince: Hmmm…You seem especially decided on this answer…

Chris: I’d have to help the ancestors… then they could help me! So, I’d say, “Hey, listen, here are some hot tips. Then I’d tell them to go to the horse races and bet on the winning horses I know will win in their future, ten to one. Like, “Aunty Jane, here are the winning lotto numbers, and who will win the World Cup.”  Hey, eventually, it’ll come to me in a few generations, right? [Laughs]


Original artwork by Jolisa Robinson, Gavriani-Falcone Team Marketing

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