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Government Urged to Help Curbing Housing Price

Government departments at various levels should resort to their regulative power for curbing the on-going rising housing prices from hiking further, said people attending the sessions of the top advisory body and legislature in Beijing Thursday.
Zheng Gongcheng, a deputy to the National People's Congress (NPC) and vice dean of the Labor Relations and Human Resources School under top Beijing-based People's University of China, owed relatively confusions in real estate market to inadequate supervision to stem "unreasonably high" housing prices.
"Developers have reaped exceedingly high profits in the current chaotic real estate market", acknowledged Zheng, urging governments to develop more low-rent, affordable housing projects to the service of China's large group of low and middle-income house-buyers.
"Governments departments should be held accountable for providing needy or less-paid population with accommodation," said Li Yining, a member of the CPPCC (Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference) National Committee and a noted economist from prestigious Peking University.
As a matter of fact, purchase of a house or an apartment in many cities has become a top concern of Chinese wage-earners, whose salaries increase far slower than that of the hiking real estate prices.
In downtown Shanghai metropolis in east China, the price of luxury residential housing can reach as high as 50,000 yuan (US$6,050) per square meter, almost equivalent to the annual income of a commoner with a quite decent job, said NPC deputy Yu Guosheng, from Shanghai.
According to the National Statistics Bureau (NSB), China's average commercial housing price stood at 2,777 yuan (US$335) per square meter in the first nine months of 2004, a rise of 13 percent year-on-year.
The figure continued shooting up in 35 major Chinese cities in the fourth quarter last year, or up 10.8 percent on a yearly basis.
A survey done by the State Development and Reform Commission (SDRC) shows the average ratio of housing price to one's income is approaching 12:1 in such cities as Nanjing, the capital of eastern Jiangsu Province, one of the economic booming cities in the country's eastern coastal regions.
The ratio of housing price to one's disposable income should range between 4:1 to 6:1 in developing nations, according to a relevant World Bank research.
Recently, some Chinese urban dwellers began talking about the possibility of pooling money for construction of their own houses or apartments, a noticeable response to cope with the fast-growing housing price for commercial residence.
CPPCC member Song Linfei acknowledged that polarity of the real estate market in China should draw more attention from government departments, research institutions and developers.
In addition, governments at various levels should make it easier for people to build their own houses and diversify housing supply means in the country.
"Houses are special commodities, which should not be speculated like stocks and other virtual products," said Guo Songhai, director of real estate economy research institute under the Shandong Economy College. He also suggested taxes be levied on unused apartments and laid-idle houses so as to weed out bubbles in the real estate market. 
Statistics show 97.48 million square meters of commercial buildings in China remained unused by September 2004, and some 57.36 million sq m of residential housing unoccupied. 

(Xinhua News Agency March 10, 2005)

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