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People's Daily Online>>China Business

Property agents forced to shift gears

(Shanghai Daily)

09:59, December 07, 2011

Tony Li, an agent with Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Ltd, has spent recent weekends at new residential developments in Pujian, a town in the outlying district of Minhang, asking prospective buyers what they want in a house, handing out business cards and collecting phone numbers from would-be clients.

Li's company, the city's largest real estate chain in terms of transaction value, is acting as sales agent for several projects in the area developed by different builders.

"It's harder and harder to close deals involving existing houses since the central government instituted tough measures this year to rein in property speculation," said Li, an Anhui Province native in his mid-20s who has been working in Shanghai for more than two years as a real estate agent.

"We used to spend most of our time dealing with sales of existing homes but have gradually shifted our focus to the new property market in order to survive these hard times," he added.

Hard times indeed. The property sector has lost its bloom after a series of rigorous government austerity policies that include higher down payments, tighter mortgage-lending criteria and restrictions on how many homes people can buy.

Statistics tell the story. In November, sales of existing properties across Shanghai, mainly residential, fell 14.6 percent from a month earlier to 6,900 units, the fourth consecutive month of decline. The monthly volume was also the lowest since July 2010, according to Century 21 China Real Estate, which has more outlets than any other real estate chain in the city. By contrast, nearly 20,000 existing homes were sold last January, Century 21 data showed.

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