The supply of new flats has fallen to its lowest level since 1998, according to Midland Realty. As of Tuesday, new flats that have come on to the market since the beginning of the year dropped 23.7 per cent to 16,988, from 22,265 at the same time last year. Vincent Chan, an executive director at Midland, said there was little chance that developers would launch any new projects before the end of the year. However, he predicted the market would become more active after the New Year and estimated new flat numbers would reach about 23,000 next year. 'According to earlier public announcements by the developers there will be about 24 new projects launched next year,' Mr Chan said. 'In terms of project type, it will be a bit different from this year when all the attention in the market was placed on the four big projects targeting the luxury market. 'As developers' land reserves continue to drop, many have been trying to get rid of their unsold flats. As a result, the number of such flats has dropped from the 16,662 at the end of 2003 to 9,353.' He said new flats next year would be aimed at the middle and luxury levels. Among the projects, at least 16 contain an estimated 11,000 new flats in the New Territories. Kowloon will see 8,885 new flats and Hong Kong Island 2,184. Mr Chan's comments came a day after agents said the second-hand property market was at a seven-year high with more than 74,400 deals since the beginning of the year - a 61 per cent increase from last year.