THE Government has been accused of ''lacking compassion'' over its handling of Hongkong's housing price crisis. Last week it announced a special loan to help sandwich class families buy their own homes. But the $2 billion plan has come under strong criticism from real estate agents who claim the Government has missed the point. They have repeated their demand for the mortgage lending ceiling to be raised above 70 per cent. Anne Connell, treasurer of the Society of Hongkong Real Estate Agents, said: ''The Government is lacking compassion. ''I can't help feeling that it is a big shame this latest measure is going to benefit so few people. ''The way to resolve the problem is to raise the ceiling for first-time buyers.'' The Government plan will benefit about 1,000 families each year and comes into force in August. People earning between $20,001 and $40,000 a month will be eligible for loans up to $500,000. Each household must have at least three members but couples with two or more children will be given preference. Applicants must also be living in rented private flats and have been in the territory for seven years. Anyone who has owned property in the last two years is not eligible. Successful applicants get a three-year reprieve on their loans of up to $500,000 before instalments are repaid. The 10-year repayments will be at an interest rate of two per cent - well under the 8.25 per cent market mortgage rate. The Government estimates more than 4,000 families will benefit from the scheme over three years. But real estate organisations claim this is not enough. Mrs Connell, who runs her own estate agency, said raising the ceiling was the only answer. ''The Government says raising the ceiling will result in the speculators moving in,'' she said. ''If there are certain safeguards put on then that will not happen. ''Only first time purchasers should be eligible. ''There should also be penalties for those who part with the property after a certain amount of time. ''For instance, at six months they should be penalised harshly but, for example after 18 months, there should be no penalty. ''The speculators have enough money to make the down payment - they are not worried about that. ''It's the people who are genuine home buyers who are not able to save the money needed who are suffering.'' All banks are imposing the 70 per cent ceiling now with interest rates at about 8.25 per cent. Hopeful buyers can also approach developers who are offering 85 to 90 per cent mortgage financing. But the interest rates are generally higher and the choice of accommodation more limited. Mr Wai Siu-yu, secretary of the Real Estate Developers Association of Hongkong, said he could not criticise the loan scheme because the Government had always made clear it would only benefit a certain number of people. But he urged the Financial Secretary, Hamish Macleod, to relax the mortgage lending ceiling. He said: ''We are in favour of raising the ceiling for genuine end users. ''It should not be limited to first-time buyers because you cannot have an effective way of telling whether they are genuine first-time buyers. He added: ''Many families have problems. They can afford to pay the mortgage repayments but they cannot afford to pay the down payment.''