HAIFENG, a southern Guangdong coastal county better known for its agricultural outlook, is being caught up in the whirlpool of economic growth. Chan Sai-hung, managing director of Haifeng Duzhi Development, who is the developer of Duzhi New Village, the latest commercial-residential complex in the area, said Haifeng was a big piece of rural farmland two decades ago. ''But, today, there are all kind of business activities taking place in Haifeng, including trading, retailing, infrastructural construction and farming,'' he said. ''And the local government has decided to take on a more active role to attract foreign investors by building better roads, simplifying business procedures and regulations.'' Mr Chan said his company had spent a year to sort out all the business details concerning the residential development which included the acquisition the relevant approvals and documents from the authorities. ''In the old days, it would have taken several years to get all the paperwork ready. But, with government co-operation, things can be done at a much faster pace,'' he said. ''Being a Haifeng native also helped. This is another reason why the government was very supportive as it, too, wanted this small county to grow.'' Duzhi New Village is at the crossing of Erwanbeilu and Jeifonglu. Erwanbeilu is the major highway in Haifeng which joins the main roads to Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Xiantao. The development was at the heart of Haifeng and had easy access to the growing number of retail shops which were being set up at both sides of Erwanbeilu, Mr Chan said. The total area of the complex is about 15,300 square metres and has a construction area of 44,260 sq m. The development will include a 12-storey hotel, 26 blocks of eight-storey residential-commercial buildings with a total of 364 units, and a 3,368 sq m shopping mall. The average selling price for all properties ranges from 1,500 to 1,800 yuan (HK$2,010 to $2,412) per sq m. ''We have already sold over 30 units on the first day of the presale, all of which were sold to locals. Judging by the traditional buying behaviour of Haifeng people, they will be more willing to purchase once they see the completed construction,'' Mr Chan said. ''We are planning to hold a sales exhibition in Hong Kong to attract native Haifeng people living in the territory to invest in their home county. After all, they can always come back to live after 1997.'' Mr Chan said many investors had bought properties in big cities because they had confidence in developments there. ''But, at the same time, they have really pushed up property prices to such an extent that less informed investors subsequently paid at a price which does not reflect the real value of the property [which is much lower].'' Mr Chan said that, as a developer, he tried to set the price of residential units at the level that reflected real demand. ''In Haifeng, the locals have earned a lot of money through trading, manufacturing as well as servicing. But since the cost of living is relative low, they tuck away their money either in banks or under their beds,'' he said. ''Many now realise that buying property does not only improve their living standard, it is also an investment against inflation. ''As the economy of China continues to prosper, the earnings of the locals will continue to increase and the price of property will reflect this.'' Mr Chan said property investment in a small place like Haifeng was less risky because property values in big cities tended to fluctuate greatly because of speculations.