The steadily rising prices of flats in Hong Kong have forced homebuyers with limited budgets to shift their attention to newly built village houses in the outlying areas. 'Last year, about 70 per cent of buyers who bought an entire three-storey village house came from downtown areas. This year, the ratio increased to 90 per cent,' Tony Wong, the executive manager at Wing Hung Properties Agency, said. Village houses in the Kam Sheung Road area in Yuen Long are particularly popular this year after the new MTR line serving the area began operating. 'Properties in downtown are too expensive. We have a client who used to live in a luxury flat in North Point. He bought a new three-storey village house offering 2,100 square feet of space for HK$11 million recently. You can't find a single house with this budget in downtown locations,' Wong said. Many developers had become aware of this demand and the potential offered by the village house market. They have begun to upgrade the quality of the houses to achieve higher selling prices. 'The construction cost of a village house in the new style is about HK$2.2 million. The old-style village house cost around HK$1.5 million only,' Wong said. City of Blue in Sha Kok Mei, Sai Kung is an example of the new style of village house development. The homes are furnished with Japanese-brand appliances and have trendy exterior finishes. The developer also provides security guards and property management. The project offers 14 houses, which are scheduled for completion in the first half of next year. It is eight minutes walk from Sai Kung town centre. The developer has sold six single-floor units for between HK$3.08 million and HK$3.12 million since the project was launched in the market in the middle of June. Two duplexes at 1,400 sqft each are on the market at asking prices of around HK$6.88 million or HK$4,914 per square foot. Wong said the builder would release four top-floor flats with roof access in November at asking prices of HK$4 million to HK$4.3 million. One of the three-storey houses was recently sold for HK$11.8 million or HK$5,619 per square foot. Other houses with private gardens are priced at between HK$11.3 million and HK$13 million. According to Wong, prices of village houses in Sai Kung have risen about 7 per cent so far this year.