While many property agents have suffered badly in a poor market, retail property consultant Sheraton Valuers has found a way to survive. Chairman Sunny Yam Wing-yin said the secret was to avoid speculation. 'Many people have labelled retail property agents as speculators. This is quite unfair to the business. I have been in the retail business for more than 20 years, many of my clients still own the same shops I recommended to them 10 years ago,' Mr Yam said. He said speculators had made a lot of money during the property boom times but only the long-term investors would survive. Mr Yam said there was less speculation in the retail market because of the difficulty getting mortgages from many banks. The lack of speculators in the retail market was a good sign for the business as it would make it a healthier environment, he said. Many property consultants wanted to be sole leasing agents of newly built shopping malls, but Sheraton Valuers targeted the street level. Mr Yam said it was difficult to compete with established firms. 'After all, we are simply a small firm, not [one of] the brand names in the market.' He said many of the company's clients were chain stores, such as U2, Giordano and Crocodile. 'Our relationship with these clients is closer than that of couples. It is not easy to separate us,' he said. Mr Yam said retail property rentals had stabilised as a result of the economic recovery. Yields on ground-floor shops in prime areas stood at 7-10 per cent, compared with 4-5 per cent in the residential market. Shops in Sai Yeung Choi Street in Mongkok had the highest average rentals in Hong Kong. The property consultant said shops along the street with an area of less than 500 square feet commanded an average monthly rental of HK$600 per sq ft. Similar shops in nearby Argyle Street quoted a rental of HK$320 per sq ft. In Tsim Sha Tsui, the same-sized shops in Peking Road, another busy shopping street, charged an average rental of HK$580 per sq ft. Average rents in Nathan Road were HK$550 per sq ft, followed by HK$350 per sq ft in Cameron Road, HK$330 per sq ft in Granville Road and HK$300 per sq ft in Haiphong Road. Shops of less than 500 sq ft in Percival Street and East Point Road in Causeway Bay were HK$500 per sq ft and those in Yee Wo Street were HK$450 per sq ft. After surviving the ups and downs of the past few years, Mr Yam expected the retail property market to be steady in the foreseeable future. He said his firm enjoyed the flexibility of being small and was considering a listing. 'This is a bit ambitious. We are waiting for the right moment,' he said, adding there had been talks with one or two developers about the listing.