The earthquake may have ravaged Sichuan almost two months ago, but consultant and investor Sun Zhixing's confidence in the western property market has not been shattered. Mr Sun is the Sichuan office director of China National Investment & Consulting, a venture between the state-owned State Development and Investment Corp and three other parties. 'I have just accompanied my clients to visit villas built by Guo Se Tian Xiang in Chengdu. The price was 3,000 yuan [HK$3,418] per square metre in 2005 and 8,000 yuan per square metre this year. After the quake, the price dropped by 100-200 yuan per square metre,' he said. The Zhejiang native has advised clients for years on opportunities in the Shanghai and Hangzhou property markets and thinks given the robust demand and limited land supply the time is ripe for cities in the west such as Chengdu in Sichuan, Guiyang in Guizhou and Kunming in Yunnan to also experience soaring prices. 'The earthquake is a short-term thing. If you have confidence in the property market in the west, the timing is good to invest in Chengdu or worse-hit Dujiangyan, Chengdu's so-called backyard.' In Dujiangyan, about 40 minutes drive from Chengdu, 70 per cent of the housing has become uninhabitable. The area's cool climate and beautiful scenery made it a popular summer holiday destination for the province's wealthy but recent revelations that it was at the conjunction of two quake zones was enough to turn people away. Taxi driver Du Zhijun said he was thinking of leaving the city. 'But this is where I've lived for more than 20 years. I have relatives and friends here. It is a hard decision to make,' Mr Du said. Many housing sales centres were closed as of June 11. In an apartment sales site owned by Sichuan Qiang Jiang Yin Tong Property, sales manager Lin Hai said there were three or four inquiries daily from refugees eager to move from temporary shelter. 'The interest is low compared with before the quake. We offer a 2 per cent discount only to refugees. So far, there have been no inquiries from people other than refugees,' Mr Lin said. He is hoping post-quake urban plans will revive the city. 'The planning was poor before. I hope our authorities will do their job well this time and use good marketing as in Lijiang. The Yunnan city became a world-famous tourist destination after an earthquake.' Dujiangyan Planning Bureau director Qu Jun said the bureau was talking with three domestic and seven overseas urban planning agencies to devise the best scheme. Developers are divided about prospects. 'Some said they would quit because it was impossible to heat up the market in a short period. But some remain confident,' a senior Dujiangyan government official said. Fan Qi, a general manager in Chengdu with Longhu Property, said the company would not change its two investment projects on 420 hectares of land in Dujiangyan but the construction timetable was affected. Developers were asked to halt construction to an unspecified date after the May 12 quake.