The residential property market in Mid-Levels is a seller's one. For every half-decent flat there is a mad race to see which buyer can put money into the hands of the flat owner before the price rises. My boyfriend wants to buy his first flat there and decided on one near the top of the escalator. It was 636 sqft and had no view to speak of but was nicely furnished and, with the asking price at HK$5,157 per sqft, it was a bargain at HK$3.28 million. On contacting his agent to show his interest, however, my boyfriend found that someone had already bargained the price down to HK$3.05 million and the seller was set to sign the sales agreement that evening. My boyfriend immediately offered HK$3.06 million. After some tense phone calls and, as his agent wrote out the necessary forms at the agency, the good news came - the rival's agent could not find his client and the owner was prepared to sell to my boyfriend instead. My boyfriend's agent quickly finished the forms and ran up the escalator to the flat. As she arrived, panting and sweating, she was surprised by the cool reception. The rival's agents, who were inside the flat, had found the client - our agent was just minutes too late. A week later my boyfriend saw another home - a small studio flat but with a sea view and opposing windows that let in air - at the western end of Caine Road. Importantly, we were first. The flat had only been on the market for a week and no one else was bidding. We haggled the price down by more than HK$100,000 over two days and were ready to do a deal. The only problem was the owner had left for a week-long trip to Singapore and would only be able to seal the deal on his return. Our hearts sank, but there was little we could do. Sure enough, before the end of the week someone jumped in with a higher bid and the flat was sold on behalf of the owner before he returned to Hong Kong. We blame it on bad luck, our lack of experience and the irrational exuberance of other buyers. But the truth is that now is not a good time to buy property. But prices will be even higher by the end of the year - at least that is what the property agents tell us.