How do ‘apartment parkers’ affect the housing market?
By Zhao Hongyi
The central government is calling on provincial and local governments to check “empty apartments” to get a better assessment of supply in the housing market. The check so far has revealed an emerging industry of “apartment parkers.”
Faced with rocketing real estate prices, the central government enacted a number of measures earlier this year that caused the property market to stagnate. Developers, speculators and purchasers are all waiting to see whether the market turns back or remains frozen.
Reports say there may be as many as 65 million apartments that have no tenants, as developers or owners wait for the housing market to improve before leasing them out.
In Beijing, the number of empty apartments in Chaoyang District alone is estimated to take up 1.3 million square meters of space. The vacancy rate of luxury apartments and villas is estimated at 55 percent, much higher than the 18 percent of ordinary commercial apartments.
The purpose of the government’s investigation is to get to the root of the property market’s problems. In China, property prices in big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have soared by as much as 30,000 yuan per square meter in downtown areas.
Surveyors will be sent to apartments and villas to see if anyone lives there. The most efficient way is to check the ammeters and water meters. Most buyers of “empty apartments” will have never used their water or electricity.
Developers and speculators, however, have started recruiting housekeepers to use electricity and water.
Many market watchers have said this is another cat-and-mouse game, predicting that surveyors will not achieve their goal.