The total number of property transactions this month is expected to be down 28 per cent to about 8,200, with deals focused mainly on low-priced apartments. In preliminary data Centaline Property Agency estimates the gross value of transactions completed this month will be about HK$19 billion, down about 11 per cent from HK$21.2 billion last month. The Land Registry has yet to release official figures. Centaline said sales of lower-priced apartments would be boosted because developers, property agencies, and banks had this month offered preferential terms to attract buying interest from successful applicants of Home Starter Loan (HSL) plans. Agents said HSL buyers aimed at residential units costing less than HK$2 million. The market would be dominated by first-time home buyers. Earlier this month, Midland Realty and mortgage broker mReferral lined up financial institutions to extend extra loans to HSL buyers covering 30 per cent of the value of the purchase price. These loans would come in various forms. They were in addition to the 70 per cent bank mortgages. The move meant HSL buyers effectively had no need for a down payment. Meanwhile, the two have also arranged bank mortgages with an interest rate as low as three percentage points below prime in the first year. Another property agency, Ricacorp Properties, indicated it provided similar preferential terms to HSL buyers and would also absorb the HK$175 HSL application fee and waive the normal 1.3 per cent charge for those using credit cards to pay initial deposits. Sun Hung Kai Properties has teamed with Bank of East Asia to offer a new mortgage subsidy and cash rebate package to promote its Oscar by the Sea development in Tseung Kwan O. Buyers will receive a cash rebate equivalent to 8 per cent of the mortgage and can borrow a 25 per cent second mortgage. For buyers under the Government's HSL scheme, the cash rebate will be as high as 16 per cent. Centaline said this month's property transactions were partly driven by flat sales under the Government's Private Sector Participation Scheme. Transactions involving the purchase of new properties accounted for about 46 per cent of the total volume, while the rest came from transactions involving the secondary market, Centaline said. In the first four months of the year, the accumulated registered property transactions would be in the region of 29,218, down 2 per cent from 29,686 recorded in the same period last year. During the period, it said estimated value of transactions fell 17 per cent to HK$64.2 billion.