IN the eyes of Payson Cha Mou-sing, managing director of Discovery Bay's developer, HKR International, buying and selling properties is similar to trading soft drinks such as colas. Because of this, Mr Cha said that HKR, with a relatively small stock of properties, was in no hurry to sell. His position contrasts with many other developers with large backlogs of stocks who were pressed to sell at discount prices. He said the company was now trying to take advantage of the market downturn by buying its 'colas' at what it considered bargain prices, but he admitted that it was difficult to buy at the bottom of a market correction. His comments summed up the thinking behind recent price-cutting sales by many developers keen on speeding up cash returns. Discount pricing strategies and preferential mortgage terms have proved to be successful in attracting home-buyers. Sun Hung Kai Properties' Royal Ascot project was quickly sold out when it was offered earlier this year. Cheung Kong (Holdings) also successfully sold its Kingswood Villas project. But secondary market transactions have suffered, as most buyers have focused on primary sales. Developers' discount sales could not lift overall market sentiment much, and many buyers still lack confidence in the property market. Estate agents and analysts have talked since the end of last year about a possible market recovery, but those talks failed to put a brake on price slide. Even developers are apparently unsure when a recovery will come. Price-cutting sales have created buying sprees for new residential properties, helping developers unload properties at a gradual pace and shift investment risks to buyers. People buying properties now, especially those doing so for investment purposes, are taking a gamble, except for end-users with an urgent need for accommodation. People who bought flats during developers' price-cutting sales earlier this year will have been disappointed in view of the continuing price falls. Developers like Hang Lung Development and Sun Hung Kai Properties, which pioneered the sale of properties at below-market prices, have since been seen to have made the right decision. Property prices have fallen about 30 to 40 per cent from peak levels last year. The potential investment risk for people buying properties now seems to have decreased, but nobody knows how much property prices will go down. Wheelock Properties' sale of the latest phase of its Parc Oasis project in Yau Yat Chuen was a hit with the market last week. It attracted attention, not only because of its drastic reduction in prices but because of its chaotic sales arrangement. Henderson Land Development and Chinachem Group last Sunday sold 168 units of their joint venture, Flora Plaza, in Fanling. A further 128 units will be released for sale next week. Sun Hung Kai Properties expects to sell its Sheung Shui Woodland Crest luxury project soon.