Few organisations beyond the government have as much impact on Hong Kong as the Real Estate Developers Association (REDA). Its members build and invest in property and by doing so influence flat prices and rents, which in turn influence the prices of goods and services. At a time when concern is rising about high property prices and a big wealth gap, it is understandable that public perceptions of the organisation are not the best. REDA recognises it needs to do more to change that view of its members. But this will involve more than the website it set up three months ago in the name of transparency. Surveys commissioned last year by the association to find out how it is perceived came back with the unsurprising response that there is more loathing than liking. Nine out of 10 of the property-buying public questioned had an average, negative or very negative impression. That view has been shaped by a series of scandals, misleading show flats, the perceived closeness of property tycoons to the government and, of late, runaway housing prices. Asked to name what they thought developers did best, the respondents were vexed; however, they had no trouble spelling out the flaws. Their perceptions - that there is a lack of industry transparency and in-store marketing is poor - have long been a cause for complaint. Part of the image problem has been the association's inability to adequately self-regulate. The government maintains a hands-off approach to industry, putting faith in free market principles. But it controls land supply and is seen as too close to developers, so looking the other way when so important a sector is involved is bound to be problematic. In such circumstances, there is every need to ensure openness. The association has, in its 46 years, been anything but that - its activities secretive and its operations opaque. Amid mounting public anger last year, it decided to launch its first website. In revealing the survey results, association secretary general Louis Loong Hon-biu pledged greater transparency and said there was even a chance that press conferences would be held from now on. That is a step forward. Knowing what the association decides at meetings, what it thinks and how it intends to respond to public concerns should be a given. In a tech-savvy city like Hong Kong, it is surprising that an organisation so influential could have for so long shied away from public scrutiny. It has that now, but a scan of its website shows that it has still not fully grasped the fundamentals of public relations. Not only is the website not being kept up to date, it lacks some of the information crucial to enhancing the public's understanding. Turning around perceptions will be slow and challenging. Websites and press conferences are only part of the process. Developers have to demonstrate they are working for Hong Kong's good, not just profits.