Speculators battle for piece of property pie

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 November, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 November, 1998, 12:00am

EAGER couples hunched over floor maps and mortgage charts, while speculators hustled passers-by, offering $50,000 right-of-purchase coupons.

On stage, slick hosts read out lottery numbers and gave prizes to buyers of Island Harbourview flats as music blasted from loudspeakers.

It was a rare sight in these months of recession at Tsim Sha Tsui Centre yesterday where the main developer set up shop for the pre-sale of 1,268 units.

In a throwback to the heydays of property speculation, it was pandemonium as thousands of buyers and speculators jammed into the centre's basement.

'We've coupons to sell for $50,000 to $100,000 from the first batch of flats. It's still cheaper than the later batches,' property agent Terry Tang said.

Thousands dined courtesy of Sino Land as they waited in hope for their numbers to be called and choose flats.

Hosts handed out 20 to 50 MTR tickets as prizes to underline the estate's location above the Olympic station.

Outside, dozens of staff from more than 20 banks fought over buyers offering them mortgages.

'It used to be a much more civilised affair. We could sit in the office and negotiate with clients. Now it's rather undignified,' said a Citibank manager.

'But with all this competition, you just have to fight to get a piece of the pie.'