China Resources Enterprise, Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) and Cheung Kong (Holdings) have registered more than 3,500 prospective buyers for Villa Esplanada phase three in Tsing Yi. Agents attributed the strong response mainly to the developers' discount strategy. Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's decision to drop the annual target of producing 85,000 units also bolstered sentiment. The developers said that by yesterday evening they had registered about 3,500 prospective buyers. The three-day registration ended last night. China Resources executive director Lau Pak-shing said they would release the remaining 200 units, bringing the number for sale on Saturday to 960. Prices for the latest batch of units would be higher but had not yet been finalised. The developers had raised the price for the third batch of 320 units to HK$3,447 per square foot, up 3 per cent from the initial launch of HK$3,347 per square foot. Ricacorp Properties managing director Barry Law Lam-wai believed the response to Villa Esplanada would serve as an indicator of the residential market, given its large scale. Villa Esplanada phase three comprises 1,200 units, of which 240 were sold through internal sale last week. Mr Law said the good response indicated the return of buying confidence after the Government's change of housing policy. Meanwhile, New World Development has registered about 100 prospective buyers for its Dragon Pride in Tin Hau Temple Road, near Tai Hang. The developer released 18 units at an average price of HK$4,600 per square foot.