It may have seemed like an attack by the undead, but a crazed mob that tore the doors off a Hangzhou real estate office last weekend came in search of apartments, not human flesh.
When homes went on sale at the unnamed property firm in the capital of Zhejiang province on Saturday, the crowd that had gathered outside could not wait for company employees to finish letting them in and instead tore the company’s doors from their hinges, and knocked each other down, in a rush to get in on the perceived bonanza.
China’s Netizens Let Loose on Zombie Buyers
The incident, which was filmed on company security cameras, quickly found its way onto Chinese social media, where the country’s always active netizens voiced a range of interpretations of the buying frenzy.
While many commenters described the rush as madness, others predicted a good result for the home buyers pushing their way to the front. One commentator speculated that the homes put up for sale could well double in value in the next 3-5 years. When another netizen predicted that overeager buyers would taste bitterness, he or she quickly received a response pointing out that such predictions of a bursting bubble had been proven wrong for 20 years already.
Property Curbs Fail to Cool Housing Frenzy
The crowd of what one online commentator described as “zombies” appeared to be undeterred by the home purchase restrictions put in place by the local government less than one week before. As of Monday the 19th, people without a local hukou (household registration certificate) cannot buy a second home in the city. The administrative measure was put in place after a third of homes sold in Hangzhou went to non-resident buyers.
The housing rush – as well as the intended cooling measure – came after prices in Hangzhou have jumped 22 percent in the last year, with values in August rising some 7.9 percent compared to July, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics. The city, which has now seen home values rise for 16 straight months, is one of many Chinese second-tier communities to see a rapid upswing in housing prices in 2016.
While the reaction of the city’s home buyers seems extreme in this case, the condition of Hangzhou’s housing market appears to be typical or even relatively stable for a Chinese second-tier city. On average, the price of new homes in 70 mainland cities rose 7.5 percent in August from a year earlier, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. In Nanjing, the cost of home is now up by more than 36 percent compared to 12 months ago, while in Xiamen the one year differential is over 44 percent.