Small and medium-size developers have mixed views on the prospects of the sluggish property market following recent encouraging sales in many new developments. Some small players believe the market is heading towards recovery, while others say the strong sales are difficult to sustain due to an oversupply of flats. The residential market has been looking promising over the past few weeks, with strong sales in new developments, including Henderson Land Development's Metro Harbour View in Tai Kok Tsui, Victoria Towers in Tsim Sha Tsui, owned by Cheung Kong (Holdings), and Sorrento at Kowloon Station, developed by Wharf (Holdings). But some developers said the sales were backed by a low pricing strategy and mortgage subsidies, which most small players could not afford to offer. They said the performance of the market was not fully reflected because home-buying sentiment in the secondary market remained weak. Dennis Law Sau-yiu, director of private developer Yu Tai Hing, said strong primary sales were only in a few large-scale low-priced developments. Transactions had slowed after developers raised prices or cut some of the preferential packages, he said. 'Unlike those big players, I do not think our company or many other developers could afford to offer such discounted prices in selling projects,' Mr Law said. Hon Kwok Land Investment managing director Herman Fung Man-hei said there was little room for small players to compete with the major developers for buyers. 'There are simply too many developers and too many flats in the shrinking property market,' Mr Fung said. 'What we can do in the future is acquire more a suitable land bank at bargain prices to lower the development costs. But, as you may well know, it's become increasingly difficult for us small developers to get small amounts of land in the market.' Mr Fung expected many small players to turn to the mainland residential market because of its low development costs and relaxed rules on land acquisition. But many developers are cautious about exploring the China market, despite its high profit margins. Phileas Kwan, executive director of Asia Standard International, said: 'There has been much talk about the high return of investing in China's residential sector in recent years. But it is rather risky for small players because China is such a big market.' He said the local property business had shown signs of recovery with strong primary sales, and was confident the secondary market would pick up in light of falling interest rates. But Mr Kwan admitted the weak economic sentiment in the United States had cast a shadow on home-buying confidence, although he expected the market to gather pace after the second quarter.