China’s homeowner fever
As China roars into 2011, analysts are keeping a wary eye on property prices. The National Bureau of Statistics reported a 7.7 percent hike in prices over the past year, and many experts believe that the actual increase was far higher. Property investment and construction both shot up by about a third during 2010, despite government policies to restrict mortgage lending and cool the market. At the same time, home prices remained unaffordable for most Chinese. The combination has prompted a tense bubble watch.
Nevertheless, a powerful cultural component could keep the real-estate market flourishing. Homeownership has traditionally been a mark of status in China, and the growing middle class is maintaining that tradition with a vengeance. A recent opinion survey found that most Chinese women wouldn’t consider marrying a man who doesn’t own a home. As a result, families often loan or give money to help their sons buy one. That, along with rural residents migrating by the tens of millions to the city, means China’s real-estate hunger is unlikely to be appeased soon.
FISH, Isac Stone. China’s Homeowner fever. Newsweek, New York, Jan 10 & 17, 2011, p.8
________property prices ________ in China.
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