Small investors who bought subdivided space in shopping malls and bet on short-term capital gains could easily get their fingers burnt, property consultants warn. Decentralised management, low occupancy rates and a poor tenant mix would make their assets less attractive when the property market turned around, the consultants said. 'Landlords of subdivided space will easily secure buyers in a booming market,' said Pang Shiu-kee, head of SK Pang Surveyors. 'However, because of the inferior quality of the shops, they will find it difficult to sell or hard to look for tenants if the retail property market slows down,' he said. Property agents said the occupancy rate for subdivided space could be less than 50 per cent. DTZ Debenham Tie Leung director of investment Francis Li Chi-wing also urged caution over the investment trend as the price of subdivided space continues to rise. Mr Li said it was difficult to maintain a good quality mall because of decentralised management, citing Worldwide House in Central as an example. The warning comes a few days after Yu Ming Investment, the aggressive retail shop investor, paid $300 million for a 20-year-old Hakka restaurant occupying two levels in Percival Street. The Hong Kong-listed investor bought the restaurant after raising the offer to $300 million from $180 million. The price represents about $14,000 per square foot. Mr Pang said he thought Yu Ming would get buyers in the wake of robust retail sales. Prices of retail shops were surging too fast and many people could not afford to buy the whole shop, he said. Therefore, they eyed subdivided spaces. But he said small investors should carefully calculate their investment risks. 'This is not a new trend. It happens in every booming property cycle,' he said. 'But I have not seen too many successful examples.' At least four shopping malls, with subdivided retail outlets of less than 100 sq ft each, have been put up for sale in the past few months. In March, investors Lobo Law Ka-po and Lai Wing-lo realised quick profits when they sold the Red Mall in Causeway Bay after buying it late last year. They paid $100 million and divided it into 141 shops before selling it for $350 million over the Easter holiday.