Homebuyers stay on the sidelines

08:30, June 25, 2010      

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A crowd of salespeople pushes each other out of the way, vying for the attention of potential customers. But the buyers just slouch home. "These prices are still ludicrous," they mumble.

"We have had only around 15 customers today who left their phone numbers and will probably catch our buses to check out the properties in Shandong Province," said Quan Liguo, the property consultant with Chifeng Group at the Beijing Summer Real Estate Trade Fair 2010.

"Our business was in the pits today, " Quan said.

Most visitors just came to the exhibition booths, asked about the prices, and turned away griping about the unaf-fordable houses.

"The government has already taken some action. I'll wait and see. Housing prices have to drop eventually," a man around 50 years old said as he tossed a stack of brochures into a nearby trashcan.

When the government finally woke up to the problem of the soaring house prices this April, it pushed a serious of nationwide policies. The stock market immediately plunged to multi-year lows. But housing prices haven't budged, leaving potential buyers wary of jumping into the market now.

The exhibition in Beijing could have had more developments actually located in the city, says another potential customer.

"And the worse thing is it still costs more than 28,000 yuan ($4,116) per square meter for a house outside the fifth round road in Beijing (20km from the city center)," she grumbles. "Who can afford that?"

Most of the developers attending the exhibition are from other provinces, and some have even come from outside the country. But only a few are local projects, because "Beijing has taken stricter pricing policies, so it is a good opportunity for second-tier cities," said Quan of Chifeng Group.

Even when the developers dangled tantalizing bonuses, no one bit.

Poly Real Estate Group is selling projects on the outskirts of Tianjin with the promise that they can change the buyers' hukou, or household registration. The catch? You just have to pay everything up front.

Source: Global Times


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