Property dealers look close to home

MAINLAND property agents have switched their emphasis from overseas buyers to the domestic market, property analysts say.

Mr Leung Chun-ying, founder of C.Y. Leung & Co, yesterday said property developers in China - both local and foreign - were aware of the increasing demand for flats from mainlanders.

''The focus has now changed from solely targeting overseas buyers and tenants to include local customers,'' said Mr Leung, who has dealt in mainland property since 1978.

He said the gradual change was a result of a structural reform of China's economic system over the past decade.

''It has to be noted that land restructuring and the establishment of the property market are closely associated with the country's structural economic reforms,'' he said.

''Housing reform has allowed more people to buy flats with the income they earn, and thus has created a demand internally,'' he said.

Mr Wang Shi, chairman of a mainland property developer Shenzhen Vanke, agreed with Mr Leung.

He said his company's policy, unlike that in Hongkong, aimed to provide affordable houses to end-users.

He cited as an example the average flat offered by the company in Shenzhen - about 250,000 yuan (about HK$336,750 at official rates) each, compared with the average 550,000 yuan price in Shenzhen.

On the problem of an overheated property market in China, Mr Leung predicted this would be only short-lived.

''It appears that there were pools of cash getting into the mainland property market recently, but when you compare the potential size of the market, the pools of money are very small indeed,'' he said.