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High prices hit homebuyers
( 2003-10-08 11:19) (eastday.com)

Shanghai's housing prices have risen above what an average homebuyer can afford, several potential purchasers commented frequently at the six real estate fairs that were held during the weeklong National Day holiday.

"Most of the apartments displayed at the fairs have prices higher than 7,000 yuan (US$845.71) per square meter and areas larger than 120 square meters," said Ye Zhicheng, a visitor to the Holiday Real Estate Fair on Sunday. "It's hard to afford a new apartment within the Outer Ring Road now, whose price can easily surpass 1 million yuan."

Ye, whose house budget is between 500,000 yuan and 600,000 yuan, visited three real estate fairs last week looking for a two-bedroom apartment. But to his disappointment, he found only apartments in the countryside were able to match his budget.

"The lowest price I saw at the fairs was 4,800 yuan per square meter, for a residential project in Jiuting, Songjiang District (to the southwest of the city)," Ye noted. "It's impossible for me to live there without a private car."

In terms of housing budget, people like Ye represented about 19 percent of the thousands of home seekers at the holiday real estate fairs, according to the Shanghai Real Estate Association.

The association forecasts that the apartments priced between 410,000 yuan and 500,000 yuan will be eagerly sought by the potential homebuyers this year. About 26 percent of the visitors to the fairs were looking for such apartments.

Sellers, on the other hand, believed it was reasonable to have only high-end projects touted at the fairs.

"The high-end projects displayed here are not necessarily for sale - but for brand awareness," said Shi Jialin, general manager of Shanghai Construction Property Development Co Ltd. "In such a red-hot market, the low- and mid-end projects are always sold out without any promotion."

Separately, 1.5 million square meters of budget homes started construction this week in the city in a bid to accommodate residents affected by relocation due to key urban renewal projects.

Shanghai vice Mayor Yang Xiong said on Monday that the city will build 3 million square meters of medium- and low-priced apartments annually in the following three years. They are of compact style with areas of 40 to 90 square meters and are priced below 3,500 yuan per square meter.

The first 4,800 apartments built specifically for relocated residents have already been completed by the end of last month.

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