'68th-floor' flat's true storey may cause buyer remorse The buyer who set a world record for property prices last week by paying an auspicious HK$88,000 per square foot of saleable area for a Mid-Levels apartment may be set to learn the hard way that you don't always get what you pay for when it comes to Hong Kong real estate. The unit was advertised as being on the 68th floor, a lucky number in Chinese. But the buyer, believed to be a mainlander, may be tempted to ask for a refund after learning that the duplex apartment is actually located at the decidedly inauspicious 44th floor of the building, according to the floor plans. In Mandarin and Cantonese, 44 sounds like 'double death' and is considered anathema. While Henderson Land Development had marketed the 6,158 sqft flat as being on the 68th floor of its 39 Conduit Road, the building is in fact only 46 storeys tall. The developer marketed the apartment on the next floor up from the record-setting unit as being on the 88th floor and is asking HK$100,000 per square foot. Henderson freely admitted that the floor numbers as marketed do not correspond to the actual storeys of the building on which the flats are located. Instead, the company implemented creatively auspicious numbering to increase the appeal of the units to local and mainland buyers obsessed with lucky numbers. Chinese consider the numbers three, six and eight to be lucky. Last year, a bidder at a Transport Department auction set a local record with a winning bid of HK$16.5 million for the vehicle licence plate '18'. Respectively, the numbers 88 and 68 - the top two floors as marketed in the Henderson project - suggest 'double fortune' and 'happiness and fortune'. Henderson can be assured of both, as the apartment in question sold for a record HK$439 million. The prior world record had been set by One Hyde Park in London, which fetched GBP6,000 (HK$74,286) per square foot of saleable area. But the buyer of the supposed '68th-floor' unit may lose some sleep after learning that the upper floor of his or her duplex - where the master bedroom is located - is sitting on the 44th storey of the building. Then again, perhaps it won't be a problem after all. The sale was announced by Henderson last Wednesday. A truly superstitious buyer would never have purchased a home on the 14th day of the month. If Mid-Levels is out of reach Still with the torrid property market, Lai See recently had an update from Nicholas Loup, the chief executive of British-based global property developer Grosvenor. The company is in the process of selling its first joint-venture residential project in Hong Kong in conjunction with local developer Asia Standard International. The project is located on Castle Peak Road near Yau Kam Tou, and the developers are hoping to sell units in the 59-duplex building at a rather rich HK$13,000 per square foot. The timing surely seems ripe, as high-end residential prices continue their climb to ever greater heights. Loup figures some of his potential buyers will be those who have been boxed out of the Hong Kong Island market by surging prices over the past six months and are therefore sniffing around across the harbour. While it offers scenic views of the Tsing Ma Bridge, the location between Tsuen Wan and Tuen Mun isn't exactly a traditional base for luxury apartments. Fat cats and red meat Wall Street is getting back to normal. New York banks may have lost US$42.6 billion last year and shed more than 30,000 jobs, but it's all looking like a thing of the past now. Compensation consultants Johnson Associates reckon New York's investment houses will dole out US$26 billion in bonus cheques by the end of March, a 40 per cent jump on the last round of payouts. But the biggest indication of how far the Lehman Brothers crash is behind us comes from Delmonico's. The landmark steakhouse, a few blocks from the New York Stock Exchange, says traffic has picked up as firms start to take clients out in bigger groups. 'If anybody does well on Wall Street, they come here and they spend their money,' said managing partner Dennis Turcinovic after overseeing a lunch for 150 people last week. The restaurant, which sells prime New York strip for US$43, lost about 20 per cent of its business after the Lehman bankruptcy.