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Investors looking to cash in on hot realty
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09:58, July 23, 2009

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A number of foreign institutional investors have quickened their pace of cashing in on properties in Shanghai and Beijing, mainly due to tightened cash flow, imminent closing of realty funds and rising concerns of a possible policy change, industry insiders said.

"There will be two to three property deals, with a value around $100 million each, that will be inked in Beijing in the following months, with the sellers being international real estate funds," Eric Pang, head of the investment department of Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) Beijing, told China Daily.

According to Pang, those properties on sale were all core assets with a steady cash flow.

"They might have to sell it as the closing date of the fund is coming due. And some funds are adjusting their business structure by selling non-core assets after the financial crisis," Pang said.

In Shanghai, Morgan Stanley, one of the largest players in China's real estate market, is selling its high-end residential projects, the first time it is doing so on the mainland.

One of the projects is Building 2 of Chateau Pinnacle, a luxury apartment in Shanghai's Changning District. The fund bought it in 2006 at a cost of 28,000 yuan per sq m. But the sale price now hovers around 60,000 yuan per sq m, with an investment return exceeding 100 percent.

Meanwhile, the fund is also trying to sell another two serviced-apartment projects in Xujiahui and Xintiandi area.

"Considering the price premium, now is a good selling opportunity," said Eric Chan, general manager of Synergis Asset Management Services Limited.

Property prices in China's 70 major cities were up 0.8 percent in June, the fourth month-on-month growth in a row this year, according to statistics from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

In some areas, the property price has even exceeded the record high of 2007 when the market was sizzling.

"Though the mainland real estate sector remains rosy in the long term, it is fragile to any real estate policy change," said Charles Chan, managing director of Savills Valuation & Professional Services Ltd. "In fact, policy change is one of the most sensitive factors affecting China's property market, and institutional investors will definitely take it into consideration."

Along with the fast growing property price, the concerns over possible policy change is also picking up.

On the other end of the spectrum, individual investors, especially Hong Kong residents, have shown huge enthusiasm in buying high-end properties on the mainland.

A recent road show in Hong Kong showcasing Beijing's luxury apartments attracted more than 400 groups of customers within two days, largely beating expectations.

"Though Xanadu, the project next to the CCTV building, is a prime location, I never expected that so many Hong Kong residents would show such a strong interest in it," said Tang Jun, president of Beijing Capital Land. "The major reason could be the very limited new supply in that location, so investors could still enjoy a handsome return in the long run."

Source:China Daily

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