The number of new flats approved by the Government for pre-sale rose moderately last year. According to Lands Department figures, 16,961 unfinished, private-sector flats in 32 projects received pre-sale consent, up 18.2 per cent from the 14,353 approved in 2000. But the figure remained below average compared with previous years. In 1999, 19,635 flats secured pre-sale consent, compared with a record 34,517 in 1998. Developers have released most of the projects that received pre-sale consent last year. Sales generally were slow but momentum appeared to be picking up slightly in recent weeks. Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) emerged as the top sellers, having each secured consent for pre-sale of more than 3,600 units during the year. Henderson Land came third after receiving consent to pre-sell more than 2,400 units, followed by Wharf (Holdings) with about 1,350 units and Sino Land with about 1,100. New World Development obtained consent for more than 600 units. Among the biggest projects approved and launched this year were the 1,536-unit Ocean Shores phase two of SHKP and Swire Properties in Tseung Kwan O, SHKP's 1,618-unit Parcville project in Yuen Long and Cheung Kong's 1,552-unit phase one of Caribbean Coast in Tung Chung. However, estate agents estimated developers sold about 20,000 new flats, completed or uncompleted, last year. Many developers tried to sell inventories or unsold units in existing projects in addition to new approvals. Analysts estimated developers had 10,000 to 15,000 unsold flats on their books and that some deliberately delayed sales to wait for a stronger market. Analysts expected developers to continue offering incentives such as cash rebates and mortgage subsidies to lure buyers. At the end of December, the Lands Department was processing 17 applications for pre-sale consent involving 13,066 residential units throughout the SAR. They included 14 private projects with 8,586 units and two Private Sector Participation Scheme (PSPS) subsidised housing projects with 4,480 units. Last year saw the approval of only one consent for a PSPS project - involving 4,100 units - in line with the Government's scale-back in subsidised housing production and sale.