THE SERVICED apartment sector has benefited from growing demand in the hotel market as people seeking temporary accommodation find it harder to lease a hotel room. Property agent Luxury Rental director Michael Fung said hotels in Central had seen occupancy levels of 90 per cent or more in recent months. 'This has pushed some expatriates and prospective tenants to find alternatives in the serviced apartment sector,' he said. Boosted by the continued arrival of expatriate executives and a steady demand from Hong Kong residents, serviced apartments, especially in the districts of Central and Mid-Levels, had seen increased activity and high occupancy rates, he said. Many projects had waiting lists. He said locals in the high-end residential market who needed temporary accommodation while their homes were being renovated were also turning to serviced apartments. Leasing of serviced apartments in prime locations has picked up nearly 10 per cent since the start of the year, according to Luxury Rental. Mr Fung said he thought rents for luxury serviced apartments would continue to rise in line with the growing demand. He expected serviced apartments in Central to be the properties most sought after because of strong demand from expatriates. 'Most expatiates enjoy the convenient location of Central, where they work and spend their leisure time. Thus, most serviced apartments in Central will enjoy a waiting list.' However, he said the limited supply and stock of quality serviced apartments in Central and neighbouring areas had seen some expatriates moving to Kowloon in search of suitable properties. 'They are looking for serviced apartments in new buildings with a convenient location, preferably with easy access to the MTR or the Cross-Harbour Tunnel,' he said. 'Other important apartment features include a clubhouse with a heated swimming pool and modern kitchen and bathroom facilities.' Luxury Rental offers advice to the owners of small properties on refurbishment and the provision of value-added services to repackage their conventional residential units as serviced apartments. Mr Fung said property owners were becoming aware that they could generate more attractive rents by adding value and extra services. 'In general, a furnished unit with value-added services commands a rental premium of about 10 per cent over traditional unfurnished units,' he said. With a higher yield on such apartments, property owners could even sell their properties at a higher price if they opted to cash in, he said.