Experts call for survey on residents' housing conditions

Updated: 2010-08-05 20:58
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BEIJING - Experts have called on the Chinese government to carry out a survey on Chinese residents' housing conditions in a bid to guide cooling-down measures for the property market.

The survey should have been performed earlier, said Chen Guoqiang, deputy head of the China Real Estate Society, on Thursday. "If the government did not know the residents' housing conditions, how could the government make corresponding policies?"

China launched a survey on residents' housing conditions in the 1980s, but not since, said Chen.

By the end of June, China had 106.5 million square meters of unsold homes, up 0.2 percent year on year, according to a statement posted on the website of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Wednesday.

The statement also said China had 192 million square meters of unsold commercial housing by the end of June, up 6.4 percent from one year earlier.

The figures were taken from a survey of 80,522 property developers across China, the NBS said.

Given that China sold 937 million square meters of commercial housing in 2009, the stockpile of commercial houses is sufficient for sale within two and a half months, by and large, said Yang Hongxu with the Shanghai-based E-house China Research and Development Institute.

The NBS gave no exact data on vacant houses that have been sold around the country. But Gu Yunchang, deputy head of the China Real Estate and Housing Research Association, dismissed the rumor that China has 65.4 million vacant houses.

The rumor said electric consumption in these houses was zero for six months in a row based upon a survey made by State GRID Corporation of China.

Wang Li, United Nation's chief economist stationed in China, who was previously an economist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), supported the proposal that a survey should be made of Chinese residents' housing conditions.

However, Wang saw another side of the issue. The survey would be quite complicated and difficult given that sampling alone would be a huge systematic task needing collaboration of 100,000, or even millions of employees. Also, China does not have a government sector in charge of such work, she said.

The NBS describes the general development of China's building industry in its annual China Statistical Yearbook, but it is quite different from the specific research work on the country's property market, said Wang.

China has no bureau of the census. Whether the survey should be carried out or not, and who should be in charge, are decisions to be decided by the central government, said an unnamed NBS staff member.

Since April, the government adopted a series of measures to rein in soaring home prices and curb property speculation. The measures included tighter scrutiny of applications for financing, limiting of loans for third home purchases and higher down payments for second homes.

The most current data indicated China's property market has begun cooling as average housing prices in 70 major cities fell 0.1 percent in June compared to May.