Beijing boosts subsidized housing funding
Government officials announced they would spend US$198 billion to meet Premier Wen Jiabao’s target of building 10 million subsidized housing units in 2011. The planned budget represents a two-thirds increase from the US$119 billion spent on 5.9 million public housing unit starts in 2010. While some of the funds will come from central and local governments, most is expected to be from bank and corporate loans. The central government has been struggling to meet its subsidized housing targets in recent years, as developers – and local governments that control land supply – prefer higher-priced property projects.
China scraps national property price index
China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced it will stop publishing its much-watched official index of property prices. The move underscores wide skepticism over the data’s accuracy, which had also become a rallying point for public unrest over rising housing prices. The agency will instead release separate data for the 70 cities that comprised the index, and institute a new price-calculation method that does not include commercial property. Without an official nationwide data set, investors are likely to have more difficulties assessing trends in the country’s property market. It will also make assessments of global demand for steel, cement and other inputs more problematic.
Soho China books 10% rise in 2010 net profit
Soho China has reported a 10% year-on-year increase in 2010 net profit to US$547 million, exceeding street estimates of US$517 million. Sales rose twofold to US$2.6 billion, which the Beijing-based developer credited to strong interest in its Galaxy Soho and Soho Nexus Center located near the city’s central business district. Soho’s average selling prices increased 38.3% to US$9,102 per square meter which translated into a gross profit margin of 51%. Pan Shiyi, the company’s chairman, said it would maintain its focus on commercial developments due to the inherent political risks associated with the residential market. He said the company will also deepen its penetration of both Beijing and Shanghai.
China Overseas to launch $500m property fund
China Overseas Land & Investment, a developer controlled by the country’s construction ministry, said it would set up an US$300-500 million real estate fund. The company’s chairman, Kong Qingping, said the fund is based on expectations that long-term property demand will outpace the impact of government tightening measures. Housing prices rose in all but two of the 70 cities monitored by the National Bureau of Statistics in January. Kong said the fund may be ready in the first half of the year.
Survey identifies top commuter stresses
About 39% of Chinese commuters have to travel more than 45 minutes to get to work, according to a recent survey by Regus, a workplace solutions provider. The report found that delays and service interruptions, pollution and overheating, as well as dangerous drivers were the top three stress factors for commuters. Road rage, loud mobile phone conversations and bad smells from other individuals were also listed as major concerns. “We advocate flexible working location and hours to avoid all these stresses and strains which can have such an adverse effect on employees’ throughput, motivation and happiness,” said Hans Leijten, East Asia regional vice president for Regus.