The financial secretary yesterday expressed concerns over confusing property sale prices and practices, and urged developers not to give out misleading information. 'Property developers should not mislead the market or deceive the public,' John Tsang Chun-wah said on the second day of the Legislative Council debate on the policy address. Tsang said he was aware of the confusing sales tactics and news about transaction prices in the new-homes market. He said he wished developers would be disciplined and provide accurate information. 'I have to point out that if the market lacks transparency, and hence causes unfairness and instability in the property market,' he said, 'the government will have to take action based on the principle of maintaining stability in the macroeconomic environment, to protect the public and consumers' rights.' Tsang's comments were made after speculation that the recent record-breaking sale of a duplex at Henderson Land Development's 39 Conduit Road for HK$439 million, or HK$88,000 per sq ft of saleable area, might not be all it appeared. The developer also received criticism for the 'deceptive' marketing gimmick of selectively numbering the floors of the 46-storey luxury residential project so it could sell units on the auspiciously numbered '66th', '68th' and '88th' floors. But in response to concern about rising property prices and that flats were becoming unaffordable, Tsang said nearly 90 per cent of the transactions in recent months were for small- and medium-sized flats, and most buyers were users. 'It's the government's policy direction to maintain the stable and healthy development of the property market ... and the government would be prudent when making [such] policies,' he said. Also speaking at the Legislative Council yesterday, Secretary for Transport and Housing Eva Cheng responded to suggestions about relaunching the Home Starter Loan Scheme, which ran between 1998 and 2002. Cheng said the scheme now had bad debts of HK$490 million. Of some 33,400 loans under the scheme, about 15,000 of borrowers had failed to repay their loans on time. The scheme allowed eligible families to buy their homes from the Housing Authority at a substantial discount of the market price. It was mothballed after pressure from private developers. Meanwhile, an official said the Monetary Authority's reduction of the mortgage-to-price ratio limit on luxury properties from 70 per cent to 60 per cent last Friday, and the financial secretary's threat on Tuesday to intervene in the property market if it became unfair and unhealthy, had succeeded in cooling the market. The number of property transactions, particularly those for luxury flats, has dropped significantly since last weekend. Another official said the government had no plan to introduce substantial measures in the near future to control the surge in the property market. 'The government is more worried about a sharp fall in property prices than a big surge,' the official said. 'The phantom of the property market slump sparked by the plan to build 85,000 flats a year can't be erased from the minds of many government officials.' The plan by former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa early in his first term to build 85,000 flats every year was later criticised and cancelled when prices collapsed.