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Beijing Property Ads Reflect Shifting Priorities


By Chen Wenya (陈文雅)
Property, page 39
Issue No. 556
Feb 13, 2012
Translated by Zhu Na
Original article:

In 2007, the price of housing in many first and second-tier cities in China witnessed an unprecedented rise, it was also the year that the city began to ban the use of "extravagant phrases" in real estate advertising.

At the time, Wang Qishan (王岐山), currently the vice-premier in charge of economic, energy and financial affairs, was mayor of Beijing.

After publicly lamenting how the excessive use of such terms as "supreme (至尊)," "luxury (豪华)," and "enjoying an extravagant lifestyle (奢侈享受)" in property advertisments were impacting on the "harmonious atmosphere" of the capital, Mayor Wang went on to tell the meeting of city officials that, "Some people would be willing to carve the word "rich" on their faces!"

After this angry outburst, the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce began to remove many advertisements that were suspected of "flaunting wealth" and of going against the "construction of spiritual civilization."

But today, the crowds of eager home buyers have disappeared and although prices in most housing complexes are still in a state of limbo, the real estate advertising that you see on huge outdoor billboards all around the city has changed.

When the market was hot, real estate companies would include phrases such as "Only Company Directors Can View this Property" (非董事谢绝参观), "Only for the Outstanding People of the World" (只献给巅峰世界的杰出人物).

But now that things are down in the dumps, the ads read like something you might find in a bargain basement store - "We Can't Go Any Lower" (再低,就不可能了).

If the extravagant ads of a few years ago aroused resentment among the public, the real estate ads of today reflect the perilous state of the property market.

Zhou Xin (周忻), Chairman of NYSE-listed real estate services company E-House China, noted that if property developers are having a hard time, then real estate service companies are really hurting.

Mr. Zhou went on to explain how companies involved in selling properties now needed to focus more on meeting the specific needs of buyers rather than relying on the grand and lofty images, how things such as discount rates, giving away free furniture or other household appliances or even increasing floor space were now more important.

Other ads boldly attempt to attract customers by offering work-arounds to the various housing purchase restrictions that city governments have introduced around the country.

One real estate industry employee told the EO about a recent trip to Wuhan, where he found that some local real estate companies had published ads promising tax breaks or help with certificates to prove they don't own any other housing.

The main focus for property developers in 2012 is to reduce their inventory. Various innovative techniques are being utilized to maximize their results. Some new tactics include requiring all staff members to act as sales representatives and increasing commissions offered to staff on each property sold.

Real estate consultant Yi Jiezhong (易介中) believes that advertising agencies that specialize in working with real estate companies will also see business plummet, but he's chosen to look at the bright side, noting how, "This is not a bad thing. Maybe when they are more focused, then they can create good ads. Previously they had to look after seven or eight groups of clients, but now it will only be four or five, it might mean that their clients will be more satisfied."



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