Despite controversy over its "no viewing" stipulation for prospective buyers, 400 of the 492 apartments available at Mont Vert in Tai Po were bought on the first day of sales yesterday. Developer Cheung Kong said it sold 150 flats in the first hour, after balloting that began at 11am to determine the order of priority for prospective buyers, who exceeded 10,000. A spokeswoman for the developer, which is controlled by Asia's richest man, Li Ka-shing, said the company was happy with the strong sales but had yet to decide whether it would make additional apartments available for sale. Some 1,071 flats are included in the first phase of sales. Property agencies said most of the buyers lived in Tai Po or nearby parts of the northeastern New Territories, which had suffered from a low supply of accommodation in the past decade. "Many self-use buyers are trading up for bigger homes, as Mont Vert is priced below the secondary market, making a three-bedroom home affordable," said Sammy Po Siu-ming, Midland Realty chief executive for the residential property department. The launch prices at Mont Vert are regarded by industry observers as the lowest for a new project in Tai Po. Peter Wong, a director at Hong Kong Property Services, said almost all of the company's clients upgrading to three- bedroom flats purchased adjacent open studios under a package deal offered by Cheung Kong. Midland Realty estimated that investors accounted for about 20 per cent of purchasers, while about 5 per cent of buyers were from the mainland. To be eligible for the balloting, buyers had to sign a "no viewing" agreement, which some officials, lawmakers and industry analysts suggested was unlawful. Cheung Kong executive director Justin Chiu Kwok-hung said yesterday that the company had made every effort to provide complete information for buyers. The company said earlier that it was not safe to let people in for viewing as construction was continuing on the site.