YOU too can be a multi-billionaire property tycoon - and it won't cost you a cent. We had a little try yesterday and it felt really good. And we weren't alone. The unique opportunity arises out of the new system for holding property auctions, which was given a try-out yesterday. The auditorium in the Cultural Centre was split into two halves, in an attempt to prevent the 150 enthusiastic journalists trampling elderly property magnates to death. But there was no checking on the door marked ''bidders''. We'd have thought there might be some sneaky test - like gluing a $1,000 note to the floor and preventing anyone who tried to pick it up from entering - but there wasn't. So we wandered in and sat down near the executive director of Sun Hung Kai Properties and enjoyed being part of the action and the faint scent of cash coming from the tycoons. Or should that be fellow tycoons? It's not a good idea to get an itchy nose if you try this next month. It would be easy to find yourself the proud owner of 23,800 square metres in Tai Po, and obliged to ring up your credit card firm to beg them to raise your credit limit to $900 million. The interesting thing was that quite a few other people had hit on the same idea, at least two of whom were secretaries from a firm based in Star House across the road. Tie breaker ALL the property tycoons were on their best behaviour for this land auction, compared with the debacle last time involving the coffee club cartel, and the general feeling that the property developers were getting too big for their Gucci's. No one moved a muscle during the auction, as demanded by the new rules. They also didn't play the game where they wait for every lot to be going once, going twice, going three timezzzzzzz . . . before chipping the price up a niggling $5 million. One mega-millionaire even waited for the hammer to fall before going to the gents, like a kid at school. The nearest thing to recalcitrant behaviour was from bouncing Anglophile George Wong of Hong Kong Parkview, one of the successful bidders, who wasn't - gasp! - wearing a tie. By the standards of property tycoons, this is real hippy stuff. Free entries BAD news for those trying to move into the fax directory business, inspired by the example set by our friends at World Communication Systems, who use a PO Box in Lichtenstein. We calculated yesterday that WCS had made $100 million from a badly printed 200-page product. However, one person who inadvertently signed up for a slot in the directory reports that when it arrived, they rang another 20 Hong Kong people in the directory at random. It turned out that none of them had ever heard of WCS. Something very strange is happening here. Bank hoist WITH HSBC Holdings revealing its numbers today, it is maybe worthwhile looking at one of the more memorable predictions for the stock this year. Step forward Peregrine, which at the beginning of February, when the stock was about $120, set a ''target price'' for the first half of the year of $150. Well, here we are on July 27, and the stock closed yesterday at $89.75. It zipped up to $131 in the weeks after the Peregrine report was issued but then collapsed. Peregrine's Ravi Narain was philosophical about this yesterday, blaming it on the ''unexpected rise in interest rates''. Actually, customers of brokerages much prefer research reports with a bit of this kind of content to the usual dismal ''on the one hand, on the other'' stuff. South China Brokerage always takes this to extremes with its annual research summaries by putting its Hang Seng Index prediction in inch-high letters on the front. The current report has 16,000 on the cover. It's not impossible, but it sure would be a surprise. High and dry MICHAEL Cartland, the Secretary for Financial Services, made a rare public appearance yesterday to talk about the abolition of the interest rate cartel for time deposits. ''The actual sum involved is not small,'' he said. ''It represents four per cent of total deposits, or $67 billion . . . sorry, $37 billion.'' Well, what's $30 billion to a high-flying, hard-working civil servant like Michael? Bet he's popular with dry cleaners: ''Here's your suit, Mr Cartland. That'll be $30,000,000,040 please.''