The number of property deals taking place in Hong Kong is set to slide for a third month in October as buyers await clarity on housing policy amid rumours that Beijing is muscling in to control the local market. The overall number of transactions, including residential, commercial and industrial properties, as well as parking spaces, marked an eight-month low of 7,400 in September, down 6 per cent from the previous month, according to Land Registry data released on Tuesday. The number of properties changing hands in October is likely to plunge by more than 20 per cent on the month, according to Derek Chan, head of research at Ricacorp Properties. “Buyers have generally waited for the final policy address in the term of Chief Executive [Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on October 6], and will only make arrangements after the property market policies and measures become clear,” said Chan. “The failure of property prices to rise sharply after breaking the record has made buyers become more cautious. In addition, the stock market has fallen a lot in the past quarter. It has been reported that the central government wanted to change the rules in the local property market.” Hong Kong’s housing problem – tight supply underpinning sky-high prices – has raised red flags among Chinese officials overseeing the city’s affairs, with some of them telling local developers to use their resources and influence to champion state interests, according to a recent Reuters report. For now, reports of arm-twisting by Beijing officials have been denied, according to the Real Estate Developers Association (Reda). The biggest drop in transactions has been for non-residential properties, which sank 36.7 per cent to 1,048 in September. Ricacorp expected the overall number of transactions to test a 14-month low of 5,800 transactions in October. It would be the first time the number of deals has fallen below 6,000 since August 2020. Midland Realty also believes the overall number of transactions could go as low as 6,000. Lived-in home prices in Hong Kong retreated for the first time this year in August from an all-time high, after a slump in the equity market weakened buying sentiment. But Midland Realty remained optimistic about homebuying demand as the percentage of buyers originally from mainland China purchasing new homes in the first eight months of this year marked a four-year high of 13.2 per cent. Midland Immigration Consultancy also noted strong demand among mainland Chinese buyers in a survey in late September. Separately, Centralcon Properties priced the first batch of 268 flats at The Arles in Fo Tan on Tuesday. Prices start at HK$6.17 million (US$792,669) for a flat measuring 331 square feet. The average price per sq ft of the batch at HK$18,888 is about 5.6 per cent lower than the average for the first batch of The Pavilia Farm phase three in nearby Tai Wai launched in May at HK$19,999.