Property activity last month increased 13.5 per cent to $20.6 billion compared with July, according to the Land Registry. But estate agents said the figures did not reflect a recovery in the property market and warned this month's data could make depressing reading. The Land Registry said it had received 7,127 sale and purchase agreements - mainly on residential units - for registration in August, against 6,280 deals in July. But the August figure was a drop of 53.4 per cent from the year-ago figure when the property boom was at its height. Despite the improvement in the figures, analysts said transaction volumes would fall sharply this month due to stock market volatility and a further deterioration in the economy, undermining sentiment in the property market. The August figures better reflect market activity in July due to a time lag of about four weeks between property purchases and registration. Estate agents said the rise in transactions last month was due mainly to the registration of units sold in Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Hutchison Whampoa's joint-venture development - Tierra Verde phase two in Tsing Yi. Centaline Property Agency, one of the three largest estate agents in Hong Kong, said developers' new projects took the bulk of the registrations and included 1,700 transactions in Tierra Verde and sales in others including Henderson Land Development's La Cite Noble and Nan Fung Development's Nan Fung Plaza - both in Tseung Kwan O. However, the secondary market remained sluggish in July and it was far too early to see a recovery, estate agents said. Ricacorp Properties managing director Barry Law Lam-wai said the secondary market was worse in August in terms of transaction volume. This would be reflected in this month's official figures. Mr Law predicted sales activity this month would fall to below 6,000 deals, hit by declining confidence. He estimated mass and luxury housing prices last month had fallen 10 per cent and the future was clouded by volatile economic and equity-market conditions. 'It is very difficult to see a clear picture of the outlook for the local property sector.'