Agents say speculators are beginning to shift their investments from the softened luxury residential market to high-street shops in prime locations. Agents said speculative activity in the sector was increasing with a new group of investors joining the market since early this year. They said this sector was normally dominated by the same group of speculators. Executive director of Everbright Property Consultants, Tommy Chow Tat-hing, who specialises in the retail property sales market, said speculators who had reaped handsome profits from luxury homes last year had moved into this sector. 'They are the new blood in the market and they are mainly targeting high street shops in prime locations,' he said. He said shops ranging in price from $10 million to $20 million were usually within their budget. Midland Realty's senior district manager for Yau Ma Tei and Tsim Sha Tsui, Raymond Kwok Ying-lung, said prices for high street shops had risen 30 per cent in the first quarter. Mr Kwok said a speculator had bought a 700- square foot shop in Mongkok Road for $24 million last week and resold it for $25.5 million within 24 hours. He said another purchaser bought a 800-sq ft shop at Haiphong Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, last year for $30 million. He recently sold it for $110 million after dividing the property into into seven small units. Trading in shops was a specialised market, said Mr Kwok. Although premises may be located in the same street, prices could vary widely, he said. Trading in shops also involved a large amount of capital as the mortgage ceiling was usually lower, at 50 per cent. Mr Kwok said banks normally approved a loan repayment period of only seven to eight years. Mr Chow said Causeway Bay was the hottest area for speculators. Particularly popular were shops along Yee Wo Street, Percival Street, Russell Street, Hennessy Road and Lockhart Road. In Kowloon, shops along Nathan Road, Portland Street in Yau Ma Tei and Cheung Sha Wan Road in Shamshuipo were among the most sought-after premises, Mr Kwok said.