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Home Prices in Shanghai Start to Rise Again

Shanghai's home trading and price increases regained strength soon after the Spring Festival and are expected to keep a stable growth this year, business insiders said.

Shanghai Stanford Property Co Ltd reported home-trading volume rose 20 percent in the first half of this month. The average rents increased by over 10 percent during the two weeks.

Century 21 Shanghai reported its rent contracts rose about 15 percent during the period.

Meng Jun, marketing manager of Shanghai Stanford Property, said returning float population were a major force behind the increase after a listless season during the Spring Festival.

"The mid- and high-end apartment rents, in particular, have bottomed out after continuous decline in the past two years," Meng said.

Demand for high-end apartment are expected to climb as a recovering global economy may bring more overseas executives to the city, he said.

Ascott International, managing The Ascott and Somerset serviced apartments, reported its occupancy rate rose to about 90 percent last month from less than 70 percent around the Chinese New Year.

"The Chinese New Year is traditionally the time for companies to shift staff. Thus the occupancy rate was comparatively lower," said Tammy Hu, senior marketing manager of Ascott International China. The Ascott properties have monthly rents between US$23 to US$25 per square meter.

Overseas employees, major tenants at Ascott's properties, usually stay for about six months. "That guarantees a stable high-occupancy rate," Hu said.

New housing prices returned to a fast-rising pace last month after a bland January.

The benchmark Shanghai Housing Index increased 1.4 percent last month. The housing market indicator edged up 0.45 percent - the slowest rate in one and a half years - in January.

Rent increased and trading rose despite news of restrictions on uncompleted housing transfer and unified property tax, analysts said.

"Some investors took a wait-and-see attitude around the turn of the year, when the government announced its attempt to cool down the real estate market," said Yang Zijiang, real estate research director of Fortunite Consulting Co Ltd. "The information did have a temporary impact on investors' sentiment, but Shanghai's housing prices will keep a sustainable growth."

(Eastday.com March 19, 2004)

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