Confidence among home owners and buyers in the property market is at its highest since the aftermath of the 2003 Sars outbreak. But the prospect of further speculation and interest rate rises may dampen public enthusiasm in the market's short-term outlook. According to a quarterly survey, the majority of both home owners and non-owners believe prices are too high. They do not expect to buy anytime soon despite interest rates still being at historically low levels. The BRE Confidence Index for Residential Property scored 708 out of 1,000 in June, the highest since the survey began almost two years ago and an increase of 13 points from March. Some 1,120 people were interviewed in mid-June, split equally between owners and non-owners. Polytechnic University jointly produced the survey. Eddie Hui Chi-man, the university's associate professor of building and real estate, said: 'There are positive factors, like Donald Tsang being the new chief executive and higher wages, as well as negative ones, such as increases in interest rates. I believe the positives outweigh the negatives, so the overall impact on the property market is not that bad.' The respondents generally concurred, with 65 per cent of owners and 73 per cent of non-owners stressing the importance of interest rates. However, 49.7 per cent of home owners and 39.6 per cent of non-home owners said the impact of the most recent interest rate rise on their expectations of home prices was 'insignificant'. Non-owners expect prices to rise by an average of 4.4 per cent in the coming three months, but owners projected a more modest 1.7 per cent increase. Only 0.5 per cent of non-owners and 3.7 per cent of home owners indicated that they planned to buy in the next quarter. Some 47.8 per cent felt now was a 'somewhat bad' time to buy.