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Spring ahead for the housing market

CHINA'S stimulus policies for the real estate industry seem to be working and might soon bring spring to Shanghai's housing market - locals showed a keen interest in the real estate fair that closed yesterday in the city.

The annual fair, used by analysts as an indicator for the city's real estate industry, attracted a record 130,000 visitors during its four days at the Shanghai Exhibition Center, nearly double the number last year, the Oriental Morning Post reported.

Completed sales at the fair were worth 120 million yuan (US$17.55 million) and potential deals could top 200 million yuan, according to the organizers.

Organizers said the figures surprised many who thought the market was only just starting to rebound.

Sales staff for the King Wai City Oasis project said they had sent more than 2,000 visitors to the site to see homes over the four days. Five buyers signed contracts each paying a deposit of 30,000 yuan.

"It was really beyond our expectations," staff said. "Currently we only have homes available on the first floors or on top floors. If we've had more homes on other floors, we could have sold more."

Analysts attributed the new interest to the stimulus policies the country introduced late last year. But they said many buyers still have a wait-and-see attitude, as the value of potential deals at the fair was low.

Last year, the fair attracted 76,000 visitors and recorded 200-million-yuan worth of potential deals, compared with 80,000-pulus visitors and 300-million-yuan potential deals at the 2007 fair. In 2006, the fair wooed nearly 100,000 visitors with deals worth up to 390 million yuan, according to the organizers.

Figures from the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development showed the country's housing market has begun recovering, with trade jumping 6.1 percent in the first two months compared with the same period last year.


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