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Real Estate Sector Vows to Build in Accordance with Public Health Standards
The outbreak and spread of SARS in some buildings and apartment complexes in China provided some valuable lessons for China's real estate industry, which is vowing to build structures in line with new public health standards.

The impact of the SARS epidemic will surely be felt throughout China's economy, including the real estate industry, which contributes five percent of China's GDP.

Rongfeng, a housing project especially designed for young people, whose construction was delayed due to the SARS virus, agreed to relocate would-be home owners to a hotel free of charge.

"That is our special measure in this special period," said Wang Zheng, chairman of Beijing Rongfeng Real Estate Co., Ltd. "SARS obliged us to face unexpected challenges and avoid dissension."

For a short period, real estate prices will be lower, but they are expected to recover once SARS passes. The real impact on real estate lies in the changing standards of buyers and renters, which will have a long-term effect and bring about reforms in the industry, according to housing experts.

Pan Shiyi, chairman of SOHO China Ltd, said SARS is drawing attention to the real estate sector. For many potential purchasers, good ventilation, sunshine, and green areas will be priorities.

This change will also affect housing developers, said Pan. Future housing projects should take the change into consideration in order to better meet the market demand.

Some construction experts are also urging developers to pay attention to the real estate environment. Kai Yan, organizer of China's public health building standards and deputy chief architect of the China Architectural Design and Research Group, said that, given the current impact of SARS, developers must adopt these standards the best that they can in order to win the market.

Future residential buildings should meet public health standards in terms of housing structure, materials, sunshine, ventilation, plumbing, water quality and environment, said Kai, adding that such standards will help to prevent misguided investment decisions and development in the real estate industry.

As a pillar of China's national economy, the development of the real estate industry will affect the economy as a whole. The State Council of China decided in early May to take measures to boost the national economy, placing emphasis on the automobile and housing industries.

In Beijing, despite the influence of SARS, the real estate industry will still be able to maintain fast growth following the epidemic, some experts said. However, the industry will face another round of competition in terms of public health standards.

(Xinhua News Agency May 27, 2003)

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