The average price of homes in popular private housing estates dropped 9.14 per cent last year, according to Centaline Property Agency. The agency's figures are based on the transaction volume and unit prices of 44 housing estates listed with the Land Registry. Centaline managing director Shih Wing-ching expects to see a further drop in home prices this year due to the global economic uncertainty. Mr Shih yesterday said it was too early to say the residential market was on the road to recovery despite the encouraging response to new developments in the past two months. 'Maybe I'm just conservative, but I do not think property prices have bottomed out at the moment,' Mr Shih said. 'It is difficult to predict when the market will pick up because of the weak economic sentiment worldwide.' However, he said the transaction volume would increase this year due to the reduced prices for new projects. Mr Shih criticised the Government for 'doing little' to improve the sluggish sector. 'Home prices would definitely go up if the Government stops land auctions and the sale of subsidised flats immediately,' he said. Centaline said some housing estates recorded a significant price fall last year, including Cavendish Heights in Jardine's Lookout, which saw a 22.99 per cent drop to an average of HK$6,019 per square foot. But a few estates recorded price increases. For example, prices in Lei King Wan in Sai Wan Ho rose 6.64 per cent last year. Mr Shih hopes the low interest rates will attract more investors or even speculators to the market. Meanwhile, Wharf (Holdings) has applied for pre-sale consent for towers six to nine of its Bellagio residential development in Sham Tseng. Together, they contain 1,704 units. The Lands Department said 13,066 flats were pending pre-sale consent approval at the end of last month. It approved two private projects last month, including the Palace in Broadcast Drive, Kowloon, and phase one of Metro Harbour View in Tai Kok Tsui.