The Asian financial crisis has virtually pushed Hong Kong investors out of the Australian residential property market, according to Kristen Mitchell, project sales manager, residential marketing with Jones Lang Wootton (JLW) in Australia. Only niche markets such as the very high-end luxury homes and serviced apartments were still attracting any interest from Hong Kong buyers, Ms Mitchell said. Developers in the mass residential market who used to show their flats in Hong Kong a few years ago were now targeting only the local Australian market where demand was still strong, she said. Very few, if any, Australian developers were concentrating on the Asian markets these days, she said. Ms Mitchell was in Hong Kong recently selling the last of three super-luxury flats at 28 Billiard Avenue in Sydney. The property was developed by Hong Kong's East Asia Property Group. The apartments include some of the most expensive residential properties ever built in 'the land down under', costing as much as A$9 million (about HK$40.8 million) for a 9,000 square foot flat overlooking Sydney Harbour. Ms Mitchell said she visited Hong Kong for just a couple of days to talk to a few select potential buyers on a one-to-one basis. 'Even though there is economic hardship in the region, there are a few select investors in various parts of the world who, if they want a property, can still buy it,' she said. Agents in the United States and Britain also have been appointed to sell the units. However, Clive Chan, associate director of the international property division with JLW, said the days when Hong Kong hotels would be flooded with marketing teams for Australian property projects were over. Most of the Hong Kong investors in the Australian market a few years ago had been middle class people. These people had been severely affected by the economic downturn in Hong Kong, he said. 'The problem is liquidity. If you don't have any money, you want to save it. So there has been a slowdown in the purchase of investment properties,' Mr Chan said. Typically, Hong Kong investors would purchase flats near the Sydney downtown area at prices ranging between $250,000 and about $500,000. 'They only had to put down 10 per cent, so it was a good deal,' Mr Chan said. However, all that had changed with the economic meltdown in Asia, Ms Mitchell said. She denied that many of the previous Asian investors were flooding the market with cheap properties which they were now forced to sell. Prices in the Sydney residential market were expected to plateau over the next few months, she said. Local demand was strong and there was a good supply of units. Capital appreciation this year was likely to be restricted to 2-3 per cent, she said. Yields were about 4-5 per cent, which was relative low considering that interest rates were 7 per cent. Ms Mitchell and Mr Chan said any overseas investors thinking of going into the Australian market should consider an investment period of five years to seven years. Partly because of the tax schedule, short-term gain was out of the question, they said.