Cheung Kong (Holdings) surprised the bearish local property market yesterday when it secured buyers for 50 houses in Seasons Monarch, its luxury residential project in Kam Tin that kicked off presales. The developer is trying to lure prospective buyers through incentives including waiving stamp duty, which, combined with other sweeteners, provide a discount of up to 7.75 per cent from the sale price. It is also offering buyers home loans at prime rate minus three percentage points for the whole period of the loan, compared with prime minus two to 2.4 percentage points being offered by banks. The developer launched 20 houses for presale in the first batch. Prices ranged from HK$6.6 million to HK$9.2 million per unit or an average of HK$2,718 per square foot, calculated based on the total interior area, garage, terrace, gardens and attributable common area. The selling price was 40 per cent more than the average HK$1,945 per square foot achieved at nearby four-year-old Seasons Villa and a 47 per cent premium to the HK$1,851 at two-year-old Season Palace, the Land Registry said. Cheung Kong developed both projects. Executive director Justin Chiu Kwok-hung (left) said he believed the property was still appealing despite the global financial turmoil because it offered an attractive yield and was less risky than stocks. Analysts said the sale had little implication for the mass market and expected transactions to remain slow because prospective buyers lacked confidence in the economy. Meanwhile, Savills (Hong Kong) senior director Simon Smith expects luxury residential prices to fall 25 to 30 per cent by the end of next year as confidence is shaken by the United States financial crisis. 'We will see a correction in residential prices over the next year,' he said after releasing a research report. He believed mass residential prices would fall 15 to 20 per cent. A bigger drop in prices for the top-end sector was expected because of luxury home prices surging 142 per cent, against 44 per cent for the market as a whole for the four years to the third quarter of 2007, he said. Mr Smith said Asia would not be too badly hurt by the US credit crunch as banking systems in the region remain strong. He said property markets in Hong Kong and Singapore should be the first to rebound.