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Upturn in used home sales ebbs on high owners' prices

A RECOVERY in buying momentum for used apartments across Shanghai during the new year holiday seemed to diminish quickly as many home owners still refused to offer substantial discounts, according to a major brokerage firm and a research body yesterday.

"A rather strong sentiment among local home buyers perceived during the three-day holiday simply failed to persist over the past 10 days," said Chen Yujue, deputy general manager at Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Ltd, which runs more than 150 outlets in the city. "Many home sellers, mainly those mid to high-end property owners, feel rather reluctant to give big discounts asked by buyers."

Daily customer visits to Centaline, operator of the city's largest brokerage chain, rose by more than 20 percent on average between January 1 and 3 compared to late last month.

More phone enquiries and viewing appointments were made during the period, officials said earlier, citing encouraging measures such as tax cuts and favorable loan policies.

The declining interest rates have reduced a home owner's costs while growing uncertainties about the domestic and global economies have made stocks, funds and bonds less attractive products for investments. Besides, a series of positive measures by the central and local governments in the last quarter of last year also helped restore home owners' confidence in the property market in the future, industry people explained.

Most home sellers are still sticking to rather high prices, and it's likely that few sales would be concluded if no major concessions were made.

Meanwhile, Chi Shengyu, an analyst at the city's second-hand housing index compiler's office, also agreed that it would be a rather long time before the market picked up.

"The first few days of the new year saw some recovery in transactions but the momentum just ebbed away afterwards," Chi told Shanghai Daily yesterday. "Low-priced properties, below 1 million yuan (US$146,000) per unit, accounted for nearly 80 percent of total deals, while the mid to high-class market (above 2 million yuan per unit) still remained stagnant."


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