ANYWHERE else in the world a developer would be laughing if he had found twice as many buyers lined up than he needed for a forthcoming sale. Only in Hong Kong could a company announce it had managed to get 82 potential buyers registered for 40 available units in just three days, and then have the experts ask what went wrong. Although Hong Kong's residential sales market has been in the doldrums since the Government intervened to slow prices down, high street estate agents in Ma On Shan had been bullishly predicting Sun Hung Kai Properties' Villa Athena sale would be five to seven times subscribed this week. One agent had been confident enough to predict beforehand that he thought there would be around 500 people chasing the 40 available 1,000 square foot flats. Some people are still having problems becoming accustomed to living in the sane world of more sober home prices and inflation after so many heady years. Evidently there is no pleasing some people. The result should be looked on as positive all round. Positive for Sun Hung Kai, positive for the Government and positive for the man on the street. Given the Government's many new measures to cap excessive home price inflation and speculation, Sun Hung Kai should be pleased this phase looks as if it will instantly sell out. It should certainly be pleased given that it was only generous enough to cut its asking prices by about one per cent in a falling market. And it should be doubly pleased given that there are about 200 Villa Athena units already being advertised in the second-hand market, with some even cheaper than Sun Hung Kai's asking price. Coupled with a rival new development coming on stream in the immediate vicinity from Henderson Land, Nan Fung Development and Cheung Kong, competition for potential buyers in a damaged market is strong, to say the least. The Government and end-users can take heart from the result. An element of sanity appears to have returned to the market - but the question is for how long?