Hundreds of homebuyers turned out in force for the first of a two-day sale of 1,000 new apartments in Hong Kong on Friday, taking advantage of the lull before commercial banks raise their mortgage rates in line with what the city’s top monetary official said will be nine more base-rate increases to come. Wheelock Properties sold 300 units, or more than 80 per cent of 372 units, at the Monterey project in Tseung Kwan O, with the first batch going for an average price of HK$14,208 (US$1,830) per square foot after a 17.5 per cent discount. One single buyer put down HK$74 million for six apartment units. Cheung Kong Property put 188 units of Seanorama in Ma On Shan on sale for an average of HK$13,962 per square foot after a discount of up to 24 per cent on the same day. About 80 units at Seanorama were sold within the first hour when sales started at 6pm. The strong responses came as the Centa-City Leading Index, which measures transaction prices among 100 housing estates in the secondary market, surged to 149.38 points, setting a record in Hong Kong’s home prices. Hong Kong’s commercial banks have kept their lending rates unchanged this week even after the US Federal Reserve and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority raised key lending rates by 25 basis points. “There should be no problem selling these as the Hong Kong market has digested the impact of the interest rate rise,” said Joseph Tsang, JLL’s managing director and head of capital markets for Hong Kong. Sammy Po, chief executive of Midland Realty’s residential department, said 40 per cent of the firm’s signed-up prospective buyers were investors in the Monterey flats, which were expected to involve smaller investment amounts compared with Seanorama. The cheapest unit at Seanorama is a 769 sq ft apartment costing HK$9.45 million after discount, but flats at Monterey start at HK$4.91 million for a 270 sq ft studio. Po said one of his clients, a local resident, bought six Monterey units for HK$80 million. Wheelock said it would give priority to serving buyers who planned to buy two or more units before processing those wanting to buy single units. Po said Midland had 1,000 agents split between the two sites’ sales offices to assist potential buyers in choosing flats. A further 417 residential units are set to be offered for sale on Saturday, comprising 309 apartments by Sun Hung Kai Properties at its Cullinan West development on top of Nam Cheong Station and 108 more units at Monterey. The three projects have signed up more than 23,000 prospective buyers, the strongest initial response since November last year. Monterey registered 8,300 potential buyers, CK Property drew 2,200 prospective buyers and Cullinan West attracted 13,000.