HONG Kong people are strange. They are willing to pay $6,100 for a square foot of space in a Laguna City flat, but reluctant to pay $1,400 for a sq ft at a village house in Yuen Long. The ill-fated public auction of two village houses in Yuen Long yesterday was a typical case reflecting people's highly selective appetite in buying properties. The two three-storey houses, each giving 2,100 sq ft of space, were offered for sale at public auction under a court order. Under the court's direction, Chesterton Petty, the auctioneer, asked a price of $2.95 million for each house. Hardly demanding, with an average asking price of $1,404 per sq ft, but it was too rich for potential buyers. But there may be other reasons the units attracted little interest. They are located in the Lai Uk Tsuen village, which is the domain of the Lai families. It is generally believed that outsiders are not welcomed by these families. So, potential buyers were expected to come from the village. The two properties failed to attract a single bid above the asking price from potential buyers at the 15-minute auction. But there were calls from the floor bidding lower prices. One person from the floor called a counter-price of $1 million for one house, while another offered a price of $4.5 million for the two. Augustine Wong, who conducted the auction and is director of Chesterton Petty, rejected both offers, saying they were way below the reserve price. The two houses were withdrawn from sale. Analysts said the ill-fated sale of the houses could not be considered a negative indicator to the property market as it was an individual case involving only two small properties.