The response yesterday to Hang Lung's release of 40 units at its Long Beach project was so strong that the developer has decided to increase the size of the launch to 80 and adopt a ballot rather than its announced "first come, first served" policy. "There were about 300 people queuing on Saturday evening when I was at the office," said Kent Chui, a director of Ricacorp Properties. The statement from Hang Lung last week that it would offer discounts of up to 18 per cent on the first 40 units attracted so many potential buyers that the situation was "out of control", Chui said. "It's too messy, and the sales regulations were not carefully designed," he said. For example, it was not clear what the situation would be if the first buyer wanted more than one flat, he said. Hang Lung said it would double the number of sale units in the first batch to 80 and a ballot would be held on November 2. Chui said a price war had started because of concern over the outlook for the property market. "Developers think prices will go down, so they have taken the initiative to lower prices so they can sell more," he said. Secondary market sales were already falling, and developers were relying on discounts and subsidies such as payment of stamp duty to help push sales. New World Development and Wheelock Properties also adopted a discount strategy for the first 185 units at their joint project Austin last week, which attracted about 3,000 potential buyers. The price for the 366 units at Long Beach was HK$16,487 per square foot, which Chui said was "not expensive" compared with other projects sold in the area. On Saturday, buyers were told they would receive an 8 per cent discount if they signed the deal by November 3. There would be a further discount of 10 per cent if the transaction was completed in 60 days, 8 per cent if 90 days and 6 per cent if 180 days.