A steady flow of well-paid mainland professionals will add to luxury demand The high-end residential leasing market in Hong Kong remained active in the second quarter with transactions rising nearly 28 per cent quarter on quarter, according to a leading property agent. Centaline Property Agency said Hong Kong's property market was hit by the Sars outbreak from March to May but the take-up rate of luxury properties remained encouraging given the limited supply of quality developments. There were 1,587 leasing transactions for luxury properties in the second quarter, compared with 1,229 deals clinched in the first quarter, according to the agent. Total leasing transactions reached 2,829 in the first half, 10.7 per cent more than for the same period last year. Sales director Jodie Chiu said leasing transactions in high-end properties in the second half would increase 20 per cent when compared with the first half as many expatriates had been returning to Hong Kong as their businesses returned to normal after Sars. Ms Chiu said expatriates typically were the main source of demand in the high-end leasing market. She expects mainland professionals will add to demand under a new government scheme. The Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals, which will replace the Talents Scheme and the Mainland Professionals Scheme, will bring working conditions of mainland professionals in line with those of foreigners. Eligible professionals must also be offered a salary at the going market rate for Hong Kong professionals. Ricacorp Properties said that while leasing transactions increased in the second quarter, luxury rents fell 5 per cent on average when compared with the first three months of the year.