HONG KONG buying in the Australian housing market has taken a turn with the territory's transfer of sovereignty fast approaching. Brokers have noted a slowdown in the number of apartments and houses being purchased off-plan with a view to being leased or for purely investment purposes. Instead, Hong Kong buyers appear to be more interested in acquiring larger homes with a view to eventually living in them. 'The typical Hong Kong buyer is someone looking for the home they will live in,' said Nigel Clark, managing director of International Home Brokers in Hong Kong. 'They are selling up their various investment properties in Australia to pay for this eventual dream home.' Capital values are static and the leasing market is pretty weak due to high supply. These two factors could also be partly to blame in the significant slowdown in pure investment buying witnessed this year. Maximum returns of six to seven per cent can be found. In essence, it is getting tough out there for estate agencies and developers in Hong Kong trying to flog their Australian wares. Market surveys have highlighted an increase in the number of migrants to Australia from Korea, Taiwan and Singapore, but a slowdown from Hong Kong. Visitor arrival figures reveal a similar trend. Presumably, fewer people were visiting the country to see whether they wanted to live there and sought real estate, Mr Clark said. With activity in the sales market in Australia relatively quiet, more developers are bringing their projects to Hong Kong in the hope of finding buyers. Some of the products are good; some are in peripheral areas. But it is not all doom and gloom. Mr Clark is confident that activity in the big cities will pick up before year's end. His advice to buyers is to stick to prime properties. He advises against buying homes more than 15 kilometres from city centres to save on fuel costs. Buyers should also ensure they are not far from public transport, schools and their place of work. He warns people buying off-plan to make sure they get specific guarantees that the development will be completed. Banks in Melbourne and Sydney have recently announced stringent restrictions on real estate lending, meaning some developers are struggling to come up with project financing.