A Sino Land-led consortium is releasing the first batch of units at its Island Resort project in Siu Sai Wan at prices below development costs. But the prices may not be low enough to draw overwhelming buying interest, according to analysts. The units had below-average efficiency ratios, meaning their actual floor areas were much less than what was being stated, they said. Sino Land executive director Robert Lee Chi-hong said prices for the first batch of 68 Island Resort flats, to be sold on February 26, had been set at $4,288 per square foot on cash payment. This is lower than analysts' estimated overall development cost of $5,500 per square foot. Mr Lee declined to disclose investment costs, but he predicted that the consortium would not incur a loss on the investment. He said the group would reap property sales of more than $17 billion assuming that all flats were sold and prices for subsequent batches increased. The consortium had paid $11.82 billion for the Island Resort site in March 1997, at the market's peak. In 1998, Sino Land made a provision of $1.3 billion for developments due to the dramatic fall in property values. Analysts said a significant part of the provision was made for Island Resort. The development, which has an overall area of about 2.7 million square feet, has 3,098 units, measuring from 478 to 2,168 sq ft. It is 40 per cent owned by Sino Land and 40 per cent by the family of Sino chairman Robert Ng Chee Siong. Sun Chung Estate, a property unit of the Bank of China, owns 10 per cent. The balance is equally shared with China Everbright Holdings and Vicwood Group. According to analysts who have recently viewed the show flats, the average efficiency ratio of units was about 73 per cent. Analysts said the low efficiency ratio came from the innovative construction of an air-conditioner platform in each unit. The air-conditioner platform was seldom seen in other residential developments and it had cut the usable area of units, they said. The purchase price will be higher than $4,288 per square foot taking into account the interest expenses buyers will pay before the project are completed in May next year.