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Shanghai Awaits Cool-down Measures in Property Sector
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Beijing may have already issued its first batch of measures to help cool down the city's real estate sector, but Shanghai is still awaiting the publication of a similar package intended to take the heat out of the city's property market.


"Shanghai Administration Bureau of Housing, Land and Resources (SABHLR) completed the first draft of its macro-control measures about six weeks ago," a property insider told China Daily yesterday.


"It was previously supposed to be issued soon after the National Day Holiday, but now it seems its publication will be postponed further."


Shanghai's measures are expected to cover subjects such as house structure, foreign investment, land management and low-cost accommodation.


Shenzhen was the first city on the Chinese mainland to issue local cool-down measures based on the central government's policies.


Shenzhen took the lead in strictly enforcing the structural standard known as the 70/90 policy, which means that 90-square-metre houses account for 70 percent of residential property projects, but was criticized by some developers and experts in Shanghai for "blindly following the central government."


"In terms of stipulating the macro-control measures, Shanghai actually doesn't want to take the lead or lag behind," said a property researcher with inside knowledge of SABHLR.


The central government's directives are believed to allow local governments plenty of opportunities to tailor them to local conditions. As China's most mature property market, "Shanghai faces greater pressure than other cities in terms of regulating the market," said a market source.


CB Richard Ellis, a foreign property agent, has already conducted a research on macro-control policies adopted by cities such as Shenzhen, Dalian, Nanjing and Beijing, analyzing the impact of the policy's enforcement on the property market in these cities.


"We're also waiting for the specific details of Shanghai's macro-control measures," said a staff member at CB Richard Ellis.


"Developers and agents are surely to be affected if the measures are implemented too strictly," said a property agent, who added that macro-control measures are already having an impact on property agent services.


Some developers have been pushed to the brink of bankruptcy by the combined regulations on taxation, loans, interest rates and land controls.


"The break in the capital flow due to banks' loan and mortgage controls has already happened in Shanghai," said a source. "If the property policies in Shanghai are too harsh, this will further accelerate the pace of the reshuffle in the market."


Property insiders widely believe that Shanghai's property policy will focus on two issues housing structure and foreign ownership.


Shanghai is unlikely to enforce the 70/90 policy as strictly as Shenzhen, according to market sources.


Property insiders generally believe that Shanghai will require 50 percent of residential property projects to be homes of less than 90 square meters within the city's inner ring road.


Between the city's inner and outer ring roads, the figure is expected to be 70 percent, while it believed it will be between 74 and 80 percent outside the outer ring road.


"It would be crazy for developers to build luxury apartments of less than 90 square meters in downtown Shanghai, the golden location for houses," said a property expert.


Curbs on foreigners buying houses in Shanghai are another hot topic.


Curbs on foreign investment have long been criticized by foreign developers and agents as "harmful to a healthy property market in China."


(China Daily September 27, 2006)


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