Property transactions picked up significantly last month to the highest volume in eight months, as developers sought to boost the market with a series of price discounts at key projects. Deals registered with the Land Registry last month rose 87.6 per cent to 9,723 compared with October, according to government data. However, the value of transactions increased just 18.3 per cent to HK$16.8 billion, reflecting the fact that most properties were sold at low prices, analysts said. The volume increase represented a recovery from the exceptionally poor market in October, which was hit hard by the September 11 attacks, but it was doubtful whether the strong sales record would continue in view of the economic downturn. The transaction volume in October was 5,183, the worst recorded since February. Property agents said last month's pick-up was driven by strong new home sales as developers cut prices to attract buyers. Midland Realty estimated private residential transactions jumped 321.4 per cent during the month to 3,548 but secondary market deals rose only 22.8 per cent to 4,534. Centaline Property estimated the new private home sales of less than HK$20 million amounted to 3,626, the highest for 30 months. Properties offered for sale during the period were mainly smaller flats of HK$1 million to HK$3 million each, Centaline said. These included Cheung Kong's Caribbean Coast in Tung Chung; Villa by the Park in Yuen Long, developed by Sun Hung Kai Properties; New World's Sereno Verde in Yuen Long and Horizon Place in Kwai Chung, developed by Sino Land. Centaline said last month's pick-up was the result of various incentive schemes offered by developers and low interest rates. But some analysts expressed reservations whether such an increase could be sustained in the first quarter next year following growing job insecurity and the global economic downturn. 'We still can't see the upside of the property market because of the oversupply of flats,' Dao Heng Securities property analyst Eric Yuen said. He said the increase in transactions should not be taken too seriously as a signal of recovery in the property market, saying many of the primary transactions were less than HK$2 million. Mr Yuen said falling interest rates emerged as the main driving force for the increase in transactions. 'Many developers released their new developments after October with low prices and attractive mortgage-subsidy plans,' Mr Yuen said. 'There's no surprise that the property market has become more active since then.' ABN Amro property analyst Anton Kwang expects the residential market to remain soft, saying despite Sun Hung Kai Properties' high-profile plan of raising prices by between 3 and 5 per cent, medium-sized developers were slashing prices to move inventory. He believes Sun Hung Kai Properties will throw in new incentives after lifting 'face price' so the net selling price is unchanged.