Prices in five of the housing estates most popular among investors in the 1990s are still below their peak values in 1997, although the average home price in Hong Kong is 23.8 per cent higher than at the top of the market 17 years ago. The Centa-City Leading Index, created by Centaline Property Agency to monitor home prices in the secondary market, shows that five of the 18 estates monitored by the index since 1994 have yet to return to their peak in July 1997. Prices at luxury estate Hong Kong Parkview in Tai Tam are still 1.1 per cent below those levels; and at Robinson Place in the Mid-Levels, they are 5.3 per cent short of the peak. "Property speculation in those five estates was very serious in 1997. They were overpriced and are now suffering from the depreciation," said Wong Leung-sing, an associate director of research at Centaline. "Hong Kong Parkview and Robinson Place were very popular in the 1990s. But more new luxury projects with better facilities have been developed over the last 17 years. Buyers have more choices now." In contrast, Baguio Villa in Pok Fu Lam, City One Shatin in Sha Tin and Taikoo Shing in Quarry Bay have recorded the strongest growth in property prices. Baguio Villa is a 39-year-old housing estate. But Wong said it was renovated a few years ago and is one of the few housing estates that offers large flats with a high efficiency ratio on Hong Kong Island. The flats range between 1,020 square feet and 2,700 sq ft in size. "The prices there are supported by end-users," Wong said. The estate has also benefited from the development of Bel-air Residences in the area. Patrick Chow Moon-kit, head of research at Ricacorp Properties, said another reason for the strong price growth at Baguio Villa was its price compared with other estates in 1997. "The government released its staff quarters at Baguio Villa for sale at a price less than the market value at that time," Chow said. Wong said housing estates would have higher upside potential in capital value if new infrastructure was developed in the area. For example, Tuen Mun's Tai Hing Garden benefited from the development of a new railway, and Baguio Villa from Cyberport. "Since access to Sea Crest Villa in Sham Tseng is inconvenient and there has been no new infrastructure development in the area, prices are still 19.5 per cent less than at the peak. The estate was overpriced in 1997," Wong said. He said housing estates dominated by end-users rather than investors would be resilient to price declines. "Large flats will also perform better in future because of the lack of supply. But there will be lots of new supply for small flats," Wong said. But Chow said the smallest and largest flats would have the best prospects. "In 1997, the middle class and professionals were active in the property market and bought mid-size flats. However, the smallest and the largest flats will be the most popular in future because of the worsening polarisation between the rich and the poor," he said.