FINALLY, moderation is returning to the property market. The latest survey on mortgage lending in August gives bankers, supervisors and the public a most welcome breathing space. Certain big banks in the mortgage market limited their exposure to the go-go property market in August, braking the runaway mortgage growth. As a result, new loans approved but not yet drawn plummeted 37 per cent. Since this figure serves as an indicator of the amount of mortgage lending in the coming few months, it will therefore not be surprising to see future lending growth slowing. That jibes with the initial report by Edwin Lau, Hongkong Bank assistant general manager for retail banking, on the bank's mortgage figures. He reported a 60 per cent drop in the bank's new home loan applications. He anticipated marginal growth or even negative growth in its loan figures for September. While the major players are quite determined to trim their mortgage exposure, there is ample reason to believe an adjustment in the property market is looming. Making their moves in a step-by-step fashion, banks are trying to ensure that this inevitable adjustment of the property market will not come at too drastic a pace. Developers, eager to hold prices up, will doubtless come up with inventive ways of financing, squeezing as much profit out of their investment. So this see-saw period may last for some time. Developers are trying to secure bank financing before putting new projects out to the market. And the luxury market is still active. The buying spree has not been thwarted by an almost 40 per cent price rise in the second phase pre-sale of Robinson Place. Mortgage lending figures in the coming months will shed more light on how this adjustment is going.