Monday, 24 December 2012

Time To Buy?

Pssst! Want to buy some cheap property in China?

According to a recent newspaper article, there seems to be the beginning of a massive fire sale of apartments in provinces like Guangdong and Jiangsu, and there is speculation it's government officials trying to shed as much evidence of their graft and corruption as possible.

The Oriental Post reports there is a sudden flood of second-hand flats on the market with officials trying to sell multiple properties through intermediaries.

Real estate agents are receiving numerous text messages, such as "Eight sets of hard-to-find flats, owner selling all at once, high-quality government resources," the paper reported.

"What's strange is that these government people are anxious enough to call us requesting an urgent search for intermediaries to help sell their property holdings," said a Jiangsu property manager from a financial advisory who was quoted under the pseudonym Yang Zhi.

The report reiterated this was only the "tip of the iceberg", hinting there was a high chance of more asset sales by worried government officials in the future.

The sudden dumping of properties is the result of incoming Chinese President Xi Jinping's pledge to crack down on corruption and perhaps this time his promise really means business.

Previously there would be periodic corruption drives that were targeted in specific cities and villages and after certain officials were caught -- perhaps due to a falling out with someone with better guanxi than them -- it would be business as usual again.

For decades it seemed that since everyone else was gaining from their position, it would be silly not to join the club. And with no proper checks and balances, who would notice?

But this time around, it appears officials are taking the heed about shedding their ill-gotten gains before they get caught. Also the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection is aiming to reform and strengthen laws on assets disclosure and properties declaration among all levels of officials.

Everyone is still waiting for Premier Wen Jiabao to reveal all since the extensive report in the New York Times; while he claims he is willing to disclose his assets, the Party would perhaps rather he not volunteer until the rest of its house is in order.

So for those citizens who may be yearning to finally get into the property market, now might be the time to jump in. With the flood of property available on the market and the need to get rid of them as soon as possible, it will be a buyers' market.

What will be even more interesting would be to see how outrageously decorated some of these places are, revealing the nouveaux riche garish tastes of officials.

We can't wait to check them out.

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