Unable to afford that luxury property on The Peak? Moving downmarket may not be the answer, because Hong Kong's sky-high property prices are spreading to public housing, with a Tsing Yi flat selling for an all-time high of HK$2.85 million. The rising trend shows no sign of abating, said Patrick Chow Moon-kit, research head with property agent Ricacorp Properties, which compiled the data. He anticipates another record sooner rather than later. 'Home-seekers have been shifting to public housing as private homes become unaffordable. That boosts sales volume and transaction prices of public homes in the secondary market,' said Chow. In a bid to improve home ownership for lower-income groups, the government launched a Tenants Purchase Scheme in 1998 allowing tenants in Housing Authority estates to buy their flats for much cheaper than the going private sector price. The record-breaking deal lodged with the Land Registry is for a 626 square foot flat in Cheung On Estate in Tsing Yi, one of the first estates sold under the scheme. The price reflects an average value of HK$4,554 per square foot. The seller bought it from the Housing Authority in June 1998 for HK$220,000, or HK$351 per sq ft. Cheung On Estate is sought after by homebuyers who cannot afford private homes because it is close to Tsing Yi station on the Airport Express Line and it has a sea view, Chow said. A 643 sq ft unit in Tierra Verde, a popular private housing development in Tsing Yi, recently sold for HK$4.69 million, or HK$7,294 per sq ft, in the secondary market, according to Midland Realty. Centaline Property Agency's housing index showed that secondary market prices for private sector homes rose 2.11 per cent last month, from March. Prices are now 2.17 per cent above their last peak in 1997. The sales volume for public flats also jumped last month, with 41 flats sold - a month-on-month rise of 24 per cent, according to Ricacorp Properties. 'I expect to see another record-breaking deal next month,' said Chow of Ricacorp Properties. He cited the case of a friend who was recently bidding for a public housing flat in Wong Tai Sin, but decided to retreat after a final bid of HK$2.9 million. 'There were still three parties bidding with offers above HK$2.9 million,' Chow said. Although this would break the Tsing Yi record, bidding results will not emerge until the Land Registry reveals transaction details next month.