Another key developer has joined Hong Kong's most prominent property players in declaring the property correction is almost over. New World Development managing director Henry Cheng Kar-shun said residential property prices had almost reached the bottom. His comments echoed predictions by senior executives at Henderson Land Development, Sino Land Co and Cheung Kong (Holdings). Despite the developers' confidence, some analysts argue residential prices have room to decline further this year. Mr Cheng said the property correction was virtually over, but admitted external factors such as Asia's financial crisis could adversely affect Hong Kong. Mr Cheng was speaking at a press conference to unveil the group's $2 billion tender for the Hong Kong Island bus services franchise formerly owned by China Motor Bus on Hong Kong Island. Mr Cheng said the tax relief on mortgages, announced by Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen in his Budget speech on Wednesday, was expected to boost the housing market. The proposal allows a salaries tax deduction of up to $100,000 on home mortgage interest payments for people living in their flats. Applicants will be able to claim the deduction in any five tax years. Analysts said the tax concession was not enough to spur demand for home ownerships. Mr Cheng said: 'The proposal's symbolic meaning is even bigger than the real impact.' He said the Government's gesture indicated its intention to take action to stabilise the fall in local housing prices. Hong Kong residential prices have fallen more than 30 per cent since the property downturn late last year. The drastic decline in home values and buyer interest has forced developers such as Sino Group to sell properties for less than their development costs, triggering investor caution on the earning prospects of new developments. Mr Cheng said: 'Property developers made huge profits in the past, and now they just lost a bit. They will not have any (financial) problems.' Mr Cheng said the group's earnings this financial year would not be dampened by the property downturn, as most of the company's residential properties were sold in the first half of last year at the peak of the market. The company sold all 2,240 units at its joint-venture development Discovery Park phase two and phase three, in two tranches last year.