Two leading commercial landlords have predicted the decline in office rents will moderate this year after sharp corrections in the past two years left rates more attractive to businesses thinking about setting up in Hong Kong. Hysan Development chief operating officer Michael Lee Tze-hau said the pressure on office rents should ease as the economy regained some health, and predicted that overall rentals might decline 5 per cent this year. By contrast, property consultants have been less optimistic and forecast a rental decrease of about 15 per cent this year. They estimated effective office rents fell about 25 per cent or more last year. Joylong Culbertson, director and general manager at Swire Properties, admitted rental rates would soften with the supply coming on stream, including Two International Finance Centre in Central and Cyberport in Pokfulam, but he would not speculate by how much. He said the rental market would remain competitive this year on limited demand, and he expected the adjustment would not be significant because the market had already made considerable corrections in the last 18 months. Swire says reduced rents could attract companies to open offices in Hong Kong. Mr Culbertson said Hong Kong's current rental levels were very competitive and should begin to attract a reasonable amount of companies to open offices here. He said rents for offices at Swire's Pacific Place in Admiralty now stood at mid-HK$20 per square foot a month, compared with more than HK$40 two years ago. Mr Culbertson said retail property rents in Swire's portfolio were stable in the past year due to sustained retail sales performance.