Crossing the border to spend the weekend or long holidays at their second homes in the Pearl River Delta has become a routine for an increasing number of Hong Kong people. A study by the Planning Department last year found that about 189,000 flats and houses on the mainland had been purchased or built by Hong Kong people up to mid-2001. The latest estimate by a real estate agent has put the number of mainland homes bought by SAR people this year at more than 20,000. The figure for next year is expected to be about 23,000. That so many Hong Kong people, who have seen the values of their SAR homes plummet by close to 60 per cent over the past five years, should still be snapping up properties across the border would seem mind-boggling, especially because the prices of Delta properties targeting SAR buyers have also been falling. It appears more and more Hong Kong people are turning to the mainland to fulfil their ambitions of owning a dream home. For one thing, for the price of a small flat in Hong Kong, one several times bigger can be bought on the mainland. Anecdotal evidence also suggests many SAR buyers of mainland homes are from middle to lower income households unaffected by the bursting of Hong Kong's property market bubble because they are public housing residents. For them, owning a 'five-star' home in Hong Kong is always out of the question, regardless of the state of the market. Over in Shenzhen and beyond, however, a spacious flat by Hong Kong standards is within their means. For them, the hassle of taking a long and relatively costly journey involving clearances at two immigration checkpoints counts as only a minor blip in an otherwise psychologically uplifting sojourn to their second homes. With border-crossing facilities set to be upgraded and open round the clock, it is only logical to expect a further mushrooming of holiday homes in the Delta. And if that makes them work happier and harder in Hong Kong - if only to be able to afford to spend on the mainland - then there is nothing to fear about the development.