The Planning Department is finalising the data in a survey of the demand of Hong Kong residents for homes in the mainland and their housing preferences. Findings are expected to provide some key figures to gauge SAR households' aspirations of buying properties in the mainland while pressure for the 24-hour border opening to Shenzhen gathers pace. Spurred by the trend over the past few years of Hong Kong people buying flats and living in the mainland, in April the department started to collect statistics such as the number, distribution and types of flats purchased by SAR people. The Thematic Household Survey on Hong Kong Residents' Experience and Aspirations of Taking Up Residence in the Mainland of China will poll socio-economic characteristics of buyers, and views on living in the mainland. The findings are expected to be released within two to three months. A Planning Department spokesman said the survey, which polled 10,000 residents, would help assess the mainland home-purchase trend's implications on Hong Kong's future planning and transport needs. The findings would be used for the Hong Kong 2030: Planning Vision and Strategy, which seeks to map out the development for the next 30 years. It is the first such poll conducted by the Government. In a survey last month, Land Power International, which specialises in mainland residential sales, estimated that Hong Kong people bought between 12,700 and 14,100 flats in China in the first nine months of this year. About 6,500 to 6,900 flats were bought in Shenzhen because of the low prices and the city's closeness to Hong Kong, the consultant said. Many small developers have complained repeatedly about the increasing difficulties of their businesses in competing with the cheaper flats in Shenzhen and the Pearl River delta region. Meanwhile, the department is inviting tenders from consultancies for conducting a survey on SAR households' housing aspirations in Hong Kong - its third on the topic since 1996. It is aimed at collecting data for formulating and reviewing housing policies. It also will provide statistics for the projections of housing demand for the elderly. The department has been commissioning the surveys since 1996 the latest one being held in 1999. The tender of the new survey will close on December 13. In the 1999 survey update, less than 20 per cent of families aspired to buy a flat. Analysts doubt if the latest survey, estimated to be finished next summer, will provide sufficient data for housing projections, considering the rapid changes in market conditions, economic downturn and political worries. Dao Heng Securities property analyst Eric Yuen expects a significant fall in housing demand to be shown in the new survey because of the Government's new method of calculating the population. Many visitors were not counted as residents, and that could result in an indication of less demand for flats, he said. He said the findings would comprise some information for the Government's land formation and disposal plans for the next few years. Housing aspirations have varied in recent years because of falling interest rates. Analysts say the trend of more people living in the mainland also has stifled demand in the New Territories.