More and more mainlanders are buying up flats in Northern district, taking advantage of the 24-hour border opening and falling prices, property agents say. The Centaline Property Agency said transactions in Sheung Shui and Fanling rose to 70 so far this month, up 10 per cent from the same period in December. In some private estates, the volume of purchases has almost doubled. At least five deals involved mainland businessmen and couples living across the border, said Centaline district manager Tony Kwok Tung-cheung. 'Some of them had been living in Shenzhen and decided to buy a flat in Hong Kong to facilitate their business. They believe that the price is reasonable though there is still a price gap across the border,' he said. Mr Kwok said there used to be only one or two such clients each month. He sees an emerging trend of buyers returning to Hong Kong from the mainland. 'The trend may have something to do with declining property prices in general while the 24-hour operation could be one of the causes as well,' he said. Given the increase in demand, agents said the northern New Territories had outstripped other Hong Kong districts this month in property transactions, amid a generally anaemic market. There had been fears property prices in the district might fall after the border opening, but agents said prices appeared to be holding, while those in the rest of Hong Kong were plunging. Northern District flats are priced at an average of $1,800 and $2,200 per square foot, against $800 to $1,200 in Shenzhen. Chris Wong Ho-chung, who manages Centaline's Yuen Long and Tin Shui Wai branch, said the 24-hour border opening was only having a minimal impact on property prices. 'The real problem we are facing is the huge supply and the low price tactics adopted by the developers in the district.' Prices have yet to reach their lowest point, he added. Last week, property giant Cheung Kong vowed to cut prices to lure Hong Kong people living on the mainland to its Tin Shui Wai residential project. Amid the optimism on the Hong Kong side, Centaline's Shenzhen agents say that the property market in the booming Futian district remains as vibrant as ever. Taking advantage of the district's proximity to the Huanggang checkpoint, developers have been rushing ahead with large-scale housing projects in Futian. 'We are not worried that Hong Kong people living on the mainland would be drawn back to Hong Kong,' said Liao Jinping, Centaline's Futian manager. 'Shenzhen's prospect is much better than Hong Kong's as our living costs are lower yet the environment is improving. 'Once you settle here, you will never want to move again.' Her unit's commission income rose by 10 per cent in December while the number of transactions increased by 5 per cent on a monthly basis, she said.