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March 22, 2011

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Property rivals in street 'gang fights'

DESPERATE gangs of real estate brokers are fighting rivals on the streets over customers, as tough housing policies hit the market.

Changning District prosecutors said yesterday that they handled two cases where five brokers from real estate companies were detained for "gang fights" in downtown areas.

In one case, 19-year-old broker Xu Qing lost his customer to another real estate company next door to his agency. He believed brokers there had stolen the customer information and offered a better price for an apartment.

Angry that all his efforts had been in vain, Xu went to the rival company's office demanding an explanation but was punched by a broker.

In a fury, Xu gathered 30 people to "seek vengeance" against his rivals and launched an attack on the brokers who "stole" his customer.

The rival brokers armed themselves with chairs, brooms and anything else at hand to keep their attackers at bay until police arrived.

A week later, two different real estate companies fought it out in downtown Zhongshan Park area, in another customer dispute.

One broker arrived at the fracas too late as police were already there. But as he left he was ambushed by four rivals and beaten up.

A senior broker surnamed Ye working in the Zhongshan Park area said brokers are now more likely to get into punch-ups with rivals because business has become tougher as fewer people are considering purchasing apartments these days.

Competition has become more cutthroat since the introduction of measures to dampen the property market have made it more expensive for buyers.

Ye said he could only earn 2,000 yuan (US$300) as a basic monthly salary, while the rent of a downtown apartment cost him 1,400 yuan. In a city where more than 10 different agencies can be found in a single street, he had to fight to survive, he said.

"Many people from other cities are still queuing up to join the business," said Ye. "They're still dreaming that they can earn enough to buy themselves apartments in the big city one day, before they find out that it's all a lie."


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