Bank of China (Hong Kong) outpaced its rivals to become the No 1 lender for yet-to-be-built flats last year, snapping up about 4,250 pre-sale residential home-loans, according to Centaline Property. BoC (HK)'s pre-sale mortgages shot up 235 per cent year on year from 1,269 in 2001, Centaline said. The bank lifted its share of the pre-sale market to 22.3 per cent from 12.6 per cent, jumping from fifth place to first, ahead of HSBC with 22 per cent and Standard Chartered Bank, 16.1 per cent. Core Pacific-Yamaichi banking analyst Bonnie Lai said BoC (HK) might want to expand its home-loan portfolio to eventually cross-sell other products to customers and dilute the amount of non-performing loans on its books. DBS Vickers Securities associate director Tony Liu said: '[BoC (HK)] have a lower cost of funds after their restructuring . . . they also have a very liquid balance sheet. They have lots of surplus deposits, that's why they can afford to be aggressive in the mortgage market.' For 2001, BoC (HK) reported a loan-to-deposit ratio of 50.8 per cent, compared with the industry-wide average of 88.5 per cent measured by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. It was formed in 2001 after a merger involving 12 sister banks and a credit card company.