Some expats are cashing in on Beijing's property boom and believe there are bargains to be had despite price rises.
Statistics from the Beijing Real Estate Transaction website showed that sales for future delivery apartments in August stood at 12,117 units, down 5.6 percent from the previous month.
But the figure is still 204.5 percent higher than the same period last year. The average property price in Beijing stood at 14,825 yuan ($2,200) per sq m, up 42 percent from January.
Eric Leung, a Hong Kong resident working in Beijing, bought his third apartment last week, despite property sales falling in China's major cities since August.
"Compared with Hong Kong, the property price in Beijing is still within a reasonable range," he said. "And I will take it as a long-term investment rather than a short-term speculation."
Leung, who is also a professional manager in the real estate sector, said property in a sought-after location in Hong Kong now stood at around 300,000 yuan per sq m, but his new purchase, a decorated apartment 3,000 m from the International Trade Center, the landmark of Beijing's CBD, cost him just 21,000 yuan per sq m.
"Lots of my foreign friends are also seeking properties in Beijing," he said.
"Though the transaction volumes fell a bit recently, I don't think the price will also follow suit.
"The strong rebound in the first half of the year brought property developers ample cash, so they are not likely to cut the price even if the transactions decrease.
"Compared with Shanghai, I believe property purchase in Beijing is a safer choice now. But I do find that banks are more cautious in offering mortgages."
According to China Index Research Institute, the largest real estate research organization, the property sales and supply ratio in Beijing dropped to 0.8 in August, the first time for the capital's property market to see supply exceeding demand in the past few months.
Meanwhile, though the sales of apartments with floor space lower than 90 sq m still increased by 10.4 percent in August, deals of bigger apartment fell obviously.
That means quite a number of buyers for investment and improving living conditions choose to take a wait-and-see attitude, the report said.
Some industry insiders said property prices in Beijing might have peaked in August, and that the continuous rise in property prices will lead to another market adjustment soon.
"The property price might rise further in coming months, but a lower rate could occur largely due to the law of inertia," said Huang Xiqing, general manager of Beijing Wanion Investment Co.
For David Ng, Head of Regional Property Research, Asian Equities, ABN AMRO, said investors should pay attention to the growing risks from the policy adjustment.
(China Daily September 22, 2009)