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Small Apartments Get Popular in Beijing
Small apartments in downtown Beijing, with sizes ranging from 20 to 60 square meters, are really catching on in Beijing’s housing market. "Modern People 2002" is one such project, which has created a new record for first-day sales, reaching 1,000 units.

Wang Jun works for the company’s sales department. He says the apartments are especially designed to appeal to young adults between the ages of 20 and 35.

“Our marketing strategy is very clear, which is serving only the single, non-native Beijingers with stable income of 2,000 to 3,000 Yuan per month. Their purchasing capacity is actively increasing, although they don’t have much savings due to their relatively young age. The sizes of our apartments range from 18 to 54 square meters with a total cost less than 400,000 Yuan. The initial payment is around 30,000 Yuan, and the monthly mortgage payment to the bank is about 700 Yuan, which are quite reasonable and affordable for the young people.”

To survive the fierce competition in Beijing’s housing market, accurate market positioning is one of the most important factors for success! Building large houses is no longer a surefire way for housing developers to score a big profit, leading more and more housing agencies to set their focus on specific demographic groups, such as newly married couples, widowed senior citizens, or even foreigners working in China.

Ding Lei is the general manager of a local real-estate company. He is very confident about the market potential of small apartments.

“There’re some 700 to 1,000 residential building projects available in Beijing’s housing market. And most of them provide only big houses. Generally, this part of the housing market is reaching the saturation point. More than 65% of single young people, aging 20 to 40 and with ordinary salaries, postponed their house-buying plans due to the high pricing. This group of people is a big market. What’s more, people’s consumption concept is changing. More and more young people, especially those who are single and those who are from other parts of the country, choose small apartments for transitional means.”

Ding Lei says although those young buyers have economic difficulties to afford big apartments, they still seek a higher standard of living. So besides providing low pricing apartments, his company also attaches great importance to construction quality as well as to services provided to the residents.

“The apartment is well decorated and facilitated with integral bathroom, separated kitchen and broadband net. It’s small, but you won’t feel crowded. It locates in the downtown area, so it’s quite convenient for the residents who are working in the big companies.”

A small apartment with these services and facilities of cause has its own appeal to the young people.

27-year-old Wang Xueling is a designer. He said it’s the first time for him to buy an apartment, and he’s as excited because the apartment will provide an independent and cozy environment for him.

“Less cost and higher quality life is what I want, and is what this housing project promises. What attracts me is not its price, locality or amenities, but its service and facilities. I can live here—that’s my initial purpose, and I can rent to other young people several years later or leave it to my child as a gift of adulthood.”

22-year-old Liu Xiaodong was paying bargain cash when we interviewed him.

“Young people can hardly afford big apartment, and in fact, we don’t really need big house. I think the environment is very important. I like the youthful atmosphere here. I mean that young people can make the whole community filled with vitality. I’m a sports fan and I’m quite lazy, so you can imagine how happy I am when I find out that we have a big gym, we could have clothes washed and I don’t have to cook any more because of meal-delivering service.”

Guan Qun is a middle-aged teacher and she is not a native Beijinger. Her own reasons for buying a small apartment are very different from young bachelors.

“I’m buying it as an investment. No matter its size, it’s a fixed asset, isn’t it? During the early days in Beijing some 15 years’ ago, I rented apartments. It’s costly and I had to move all the time to find the best bargain. Nowadays, more and more young people from other parts of China are coming to Beijing, for better opportunities. And I believe they have such difficulties in finding a decent place to live. So I think most young people with a stable income can afford renting a small apartment like this one. Besides paying back my mortgage, I can still make a profit.”

However, nothing is perfect. Here’re some of the house-buyers’ complaints and worries.

“Apartments above 37 square meters have better kitchen facilities like the supply of natural gas, which may be more convenient for dwellers to cook by themselves. But those smaller than 37 square meters are not equipped with such facilities which is really a pity.”

“Some of the facilities the company promised, such as the security system and visual door-bell, are not yet installed. And the community’s plantation coverage is not 65 percent described in its commercials. I hope we can get what we were assured in the contract.”

(China Radio International July 11, 2002)

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