Midland Holdings, one of the top two real-estate agencies in Hong Kong, expects a rise in commission incomes from arranging more primary market sales in the final quarter of the year as new property developments come on stream. The agency yesterday reported profit attributable to shareholders jumped 39 per cent to $232.98 million for the six months to June, driven largely by commissions earned from secondary market transactions. Secondary sales commissions contributed about 71 per cent of commission income, chairman Wong Kin-yip said. 'But I expect more business in the primary property market in the fourth quarter as more new projects will be launched in coming months,' he said. 'Developers have been delaying the launch of their projects this year, but I guess more new projects will emerge in coming months since they have to maintain a certain level of cash inflow.' The company declared an interim dividend of 10 cents per share, compared with seven cents last year. Turnover increased 48 per cent to $1.4 billion but profit margin narrowed to 16.6 per cent from 17.4 per cent. 'The drop in profit margin was mainly due to rising rentals,' Mr Wong said, adding rent costs had soared 85 per cent in the first six months of this year, accounting for about 9 per cent of operating cost during the period, up from 7 per cent last year. 'Some branches have seen more than 100 per cent rent rises,' he said. The agency increased its branch outlets to 434 by the end of June, up from 350 at the beginning of this year and 283 at the end of June last year.