Finally, some action. After a public outcry about perceived unfairness and suspected market manipulation over questionable sales tactics by developers, the government is now taking steps. The measures proposed this week by housing minister Eva Cheng do not go far enough to satisfy all consumers. But they are welcome, because they show that officials are prepared to step in, albeit reluctantly, if market discipline fails to adequately protect buyers. The new rules will give buyers a better idea of what they are getting for their money. They require developers to make show flats more accurate representations of uncompleted properties, ruling out practices like the omission of walls and doors and the substitution of glass walls to give an illusory impression of space in ever smaller flats. The address and actual location of properties would have to appear in advertising materials, and not just an idealised image of the development, its setting and urban environment. Developers would also have to disclose details of sales of flats to their own senior executives and those of associated companies, following recent examples of connected sales that could have misled genuine buyers, and gave rise to suspicion of market manipulation. These moves follow a recent requirement for developers to disclose the saleable floor area and its price per square foot when uncompleted flats go on sale, instead of the gross area including common areas. The new measures are reasonable and timely. But the immediate reaction of developers and critics reveals a lot about the market power of the industry. Some developers support them, but their industry organisation, the Real Estate Developers Association, says it will be difficult to comply and has not yet agreed to them. Critics, on the other hand, say the new rules would fail to solve key problems and are far from sufficient to achieve a more level playing field for buyers. Loopholes remaining in the rules for selling uncompleted flats include the lack of vital information on prices and transaction records, which leaves buyers prone to make wrong decisions, along with tactics such as midnight sales and selling flats batch by batch. Complaints about sales practices and lack of transparency have grown amid a surge in luxury property prices. Property plays a dominant role in our economy and household prosperity and is extremely sensitive on both the supply and demand sides. The government is, therefore, right to be cautious about doing anything which increases supply or reins in prices, risking harm to the market. An example is to be found in the modest steps to boost the supply of flats by increasing the number of units in MTR Corp and Urban Renewal Authority projects, tweaking the land sale system and enhancing the secondary market for Home Ownership Scheme flats. Neither developers nor existing homeowners benefiting from rising prices will lose too much sleep over that. But if the government is to refrain from interfering with market forces, it need make no apology about trying to help the market work more efficiently: by ensuring transparency and fairness in sales practices, and hence a level playing field for all participants. All markets require rules and practices for them to function effectively. These proposals would help serve that goal, and with some developers already on side it is difficult to see how their association can raise any serious objection to the proposed new rules.