Banks may be considering more aggressive credit options, but homebuyers are showing a greater inclination to pay large deposits on their purchases and to borrow less. Consultants said the trend - which is especially evident in the medium to upper end of the property sector - was a healthy sign, and contrasted markedly with buying patterns in 1997 when the market was coloured by a high level of speculation. Buyers of apartments worth $2.5 million to $8 million are borrowing 65 per cent to 70 per cent of the value of their purchases, according to Ricacorp Mortgage Agency director Hendrick Leung Lee-chung. Seven years ago, most buyers in this price category borrowed up to 90 per cent of the value of an apartment - securing a mortgage with a 70 per cent limit and a personal loan of 20 per cent. The loan to value ratio for units worth more than $8 million has fallen to less than 40 per cent, compared with 60 per cent in 1997, according to Mr Lee. 'In 1997, highly geared speculators traded in the first- and second- hand market. At the time, the loan to value ratio was much higher than it is now,' he said. Today, genuine homebuyers and investors are doing the buying. Midland Realty chief analyst Buggle Lau Ka-fai said buyers were more cautious about financing home purchases after their experiences during the seven-year property slump. According to a survey of 1,018 homebuyers conducted by Midland Realty, only 4.9 per cent of home loans granted in the 12 months to October covered more than 90 per cent of the value of the properties. Sunny Cheung Yiu-tong, DBS Bank managing director and head of consumer banking, said the loan to value ratio at the upper end of the residential market would be even lower as most buyers had a strong cash flow.