Hong Kong secondary market home sales continued to slow in the first week of the Year of the Ox, with deals down 48 per cent on transactions recorded in the previous week, according to data monitored by Ricacorp Properties. The data for 50 key housing estates shows there were 112 transactions during the week ended February 1, a period that includes the Lunar New Year holiday. The holiday sales volume was down from 217 deals in the previous week and represented the lowest holiday period deal volume since 2006, said David Chan Tai-wai, a director at Ricacorp. There were 225 deals during last year's holiday, he said, compared with 159 in 2007 and 104 in 2006. Twelve housing estates reported no transactions last week. Agents attribute this to the fact that many people were either out of town for the holiday or visiting friends and relatives. Mr Chan expected deal volumes to rebound above the 200 level this week based on the increased number of bookings made by prospective buyers to view flats this weekend. A survey by Midland Realty of deals done in 30 key housing estates shows just 56 transactions were closed in the first week of the Lunar New Year. 'The figure is even lower than the previous record low of 80 deals in mid-October as the global financial crisis spread,' said Anita Cheung Pui-lui, Midland Realty research manager. However, she said she expected transactions would pick up in the following weeks. The Midland data shows that sales recorded in Taikoo Shing - the most actively traded housing estate - dropped to three from 10 a week ago, while deals done in Laguna City in Kwun Tong slipped to four from nine during the same period. Secondary residential prices meanwhile tumbled a further 2.8 per cent last month, according to property benchmark Centa-City Index. Property agents said potential home buyers were waiting for the latter part of the year in anticipation of further falls in prices. However, some sellers were responding to the falling prices by choosing to lease their units on short-term contracts ranging from three to six months instead of selling at a lower price, said agents. In JResidence, Wan Chai, a three-month leasing agreement was signed for a 490 square foot flat for HK$17,000 a month. 'Some owners prefer not to sell at the moment as they think it is unlikely there will be further big falls in prices,' said Jeffrey Ng Chong-yip, a residential director at Midland Realty. In the primary market, Chinachem Group sold five units at its Le Billionaire in Kowloon City where a buyer paid HK$3.67 million for a 766 sq ft flat.