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Real estate experts bet on housing prices

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-03-22 10:32

BEIJING - Although it has become somewhat fashionable for Chinese property tycoons and experts to bet on home prices, their predictions are often contradictory and sometimes downright bizarre.

Guo Jianbo, a Shenzhen-based industry insider, said last December that if home prices in major cities didn't drop in March, he would go for a naked run in downtown Beijing.

Others have made sky-high predictions about the industry's prices. Dong Fan, a real estate researcher at Beijing Normal University, said average home prices in Beijing will hit 800,000 yuan ($127,389) per square meter in 25 years, 40 times higher than the current average price.

Some industry experts, however, think prices are more likely to fall due to government intervention. "Quickly sell your spare homes, as their prices will fall due to continued tightening policies," said Andy Xie, a former senior manager at Morgan Stanley.

Some industry insiders have taken to criticizing each other for their predictions. Outspoken property tycoon Ren Zhiqiang said home prices will rise even faster than income growth in March if land supplies for housing do not increase significantly.

But Cao Jianhai, an economics researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, criticized Ren and others for using their predictions to create hype and generate sales.

"People say I am a good actor. But the reality is, if I do not attract enough attention, who will know me and buy my homes?" said Pan Shiyi, a friend of Ren's and another real estate tycoon.

Amid the heated and often self-contradictory predictions, the country's housing prices are generally increasing.

Of a statistical pool of 70 major Chinese cities monitored by the National Bureau of Statistics, 66 cities saw home prices increase by a margin of no more than 3.1 percent in February from a month earlier, when 53 cities reported a growth margin of no more than 2.2 percent.

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