Property sales plunged almost 30 per cent last month from a year ago and market observers say developers need to offer higher discounts to attract buyers. Data from the Land Registry yesterday showed there were 5,817 sale and purchase agreements last month, 3.1 per cent fewer than December and 29.9 per cent lower than January last year. The figures include the sales of flats, shops, car parks and industrial units. Home sales fell 17.3 per cent from a year ago to 4,488, which were 3.8 per cent down from December. "If developers are willing to offer discounts of 20 to 25 per cent for their new projects, end users will quicken their pace in returning to the market," said Louis Chan Wing-kit, the managing director for residential sales at Centaline Property Agency. In the second-hand home market, Chan said a 15 per cent price drop would be enough to build buying confidence. More projects should be put on sale this year after developers got used to the Residential Properties (First-hand Sales) Ordinance, imposed in April last year to regulate the sale of new homes. The value of home sales last month totalled HK$27.3 billion, down 4.5 per cent from a year ago and 22 per cent lower than December. The value of all property sales fell 32.9 per cent from a year ago to HK$33.6 billion. Midland Realty attributed the sharp fall in sales value to a decline in luxury home deals. The number of transactions exceeding HK$20 million sank 52 per cent to 83, compared with 172 in January last year. Sales of flats valued at between HK$10 million and HK$20 million dropped 29 per cent to 371 from 524. With developers cutting the prices of their new launches since October last year, homebuyers have focused their attention on the primary market. Last month, the number of deals in the primary market fell 14 per cent to 1,755 but rose 179 per cent from 628 a year ago. In the secondary market, there were 2,856 transactions, the fourth consecutive month the figure was below the average monthly level of 3,000 deals. Jeffrey Ng Chong-yip, a senior executive director at Hong Kong Property, said residential sales would remain low this month because of the Lunar New Year holiday. "It is a traditional low season in the property industry," he said.