By Cherry Cao | 2012-12-17 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
FOR more than a week, real estate broker Jack Sun seldom got home from work before 11:30pm. He's not complaining. After a tough 2011 in an uncertain market, the 25-year-old has reason for renewed confidence.
Sun works for Tospur, one of China's leading property research and brokerage houses. He's been working more than 12 hours a day since late November on pre-launch preparations for a commercial title apartment project in the heart of one of the city's major residential communities beyond the Outer Ring Road.
"The market feedback seems good, and the majority of people who have expressed interest in this project are local residents," Sun told Shanghai Daily before the project's official kickoff on December 8. "A lottery will be arranged to decide the priority of home hunters in selecting units."
Most of the units are about 60 square meters in size, costing less than 800,000 yuan (US$127,186). The project, a joint development by China Vanke Co and COFCO Property (Group) Co, mainly targets young people on tight budgets and those who would like to invest in property but are currently banned from involvement in residential title developments.
The distinction between residential and commercial titles has become important in the continuing environment of the government's curbs on property speculation.
Commercial title, which falls under the more commonly used category of "serviced apartment," has an ownership tenure of up to 50 years, compared with the normal 70 years under the traditional "residential title" units. Utility fees at the commercial title units are usually more expensive. Because the properties are categorized as "commercial" rather than "residential," they can be bought without restrictions.
Distinctions aside, there have been clear signs that sentiment is improving in the overall housing market in recent months, both in existing and new homes.
New home purchases in Shanghai in November, excluding government-subsidized affordable housing, rose 12 percent from a month earlier to 981,500 square meters, remaining above 800,000 square meters for the seventh straight month, according to Shanghai Uwin Real Estate Information Services Co. Year-on-year, the gain represented a growth of nearly 100 percent.
For the first 11 months of this year, meanwhile, new home sales exceeded 8.1 million square meters across the city, compared with 6.72 million square meters during the whole of 2011, according to Uwin.
Similar robust momentum has appeared in the city's pre-owned housing market.
In that market, 19,744 units changed hands in Shanghai last month, a rise of 21.6 percent from October and a surge of more than 200 percent from the same period a year earlier, Shanghai Deovolente Realty Co, a major estate chain in the city, said in its latest report.
Industry analysts are predicting the momentum will probably extend well into the new year, though mild fluctuations may occur.
"The local housing market will probably maintain its strength for the next 12 months, and no significant change in either volume or price seems likely," said Joe Zhou, head of research at Jones Lang LaSalle Shanghai. "The market will stabilize further as tightening measures to curb housing speculation remain in place for some time."
The official Xinhua news agency reported earlier this month that the Chinese government will maintain the continuity and stability of economic policies in 2013. It cited a statement issued after a meeting of the country's top leaders, headed by Xi Jinping, that China will expand domestic demand, actively promote urbanization, strengthen real estate controls and support small business, according to Xinhua.
Lian Ping, chief economist at the Bank of Communications, said he expects a "moderately active" property market in 2013.