Houses in Shanghai

It is approaching the three year anniversary of my purchase of my current house at Vanke Waltz Garden. I have been paying the mortgage of the house for three years and have lived in the house for two years. During the three years, the real estate market in Shanghai changed dramatically and affected millions of people. The current status of the market is still confusing – the house price is still rising like a rocket, while the voice of the bubble theory is becoming stronger day by day. It is a good time to take a look at the houses in Shanghai by reviewing the three years we went along.

Why I bought this House

Many people commented on the house and asked why I bought this house. “I am interested in why you chose to move to Vanke’s Waltz Garden: what attracted you to the place?”

Well. I chose the house by a simple reason – I love the Real Estate Developer – Vanke. The Vanke group is the largest real estate developer in China. Vanke is a magic word for me. It has turned many county areas into beautiful town house.

At the time I bought the house in early 1999, the average price per sq. meter is about 3000 RMB. Typical apartment is from 90 – 120 sq. meters in Shanghai. That made the total price to be 300,000 RMB or 36,000 USD. It was a huge number already. However, the Vanke house was priced higher. The 5000 RMB per sq. m is even higher than the adjacent properties.

Good Deal

Looking back, it turned out to be a good deal. The price for the houses has almost doubled in three years. Now it is almost impossible to buy any house within the inner ring less than 7000 RMB per sq. m.

Xiao Qu

“I understand that Vanke’s Waltz Garden is also called a new “xiao qu” or “she qu”? Are these very popular housing options in Shanghai now?” – Mr. Pow from Singapore.

Yes. It is called Xiao Qu or Community in English. It is almost the only option in Shanghai. Currently, the real estate market works this way in Shanghai:

  • The government offer lands to the public. Typically, the land will be a very large area.
  • The Real Estate Company Buy the Land from the government.
  • The Real Estate Company build houses on the land and sell them. Typically, they are either high buildings (with 20 – 30 stories) in downtown or 10 – 11 stories in farther areas.
  • The customers buy the houses and get the certificate of ownership.

So there is no separated house. Actually houses (one building with only one family living in it) are no longer allowed to be built within the outer ring road of Shanghai. The new apartment buildings have to be either 7-stories without elevator or higher with elevator.

So, several buildings will make up a community. The community is typically maintained by a Property Management Company. The Property Management Company charges people living in the community for their service (say, 1.95 RMB per sq. m per month)

It is the Seller’s Market

As I described in my previous blog Hard to Buy a House in Shanghai, it is absolutely a seller’s market. To be more precious, it is the investor’s market.

There is a very strange phenomena in Shanghai that people with money cannot get a chance to buy an apartment. This is out of everyone’s imagination – so wired.

When a real estate project is completed and open to market, buyers with cash in hand only find out that all the apartments have been sold out. After looking for bigger houses for some days, I am disappointed myself. If you hear about a place that sounds good, you don’t even need to bother to call their sales hotline. The answer will be: “Sorry. All the apartments have been sold out”.

What? All apartments have been sold out? It is astonishing to see the newly opened houses with at least 1000 apartments were sold out in two hours. Am I dreaming? Unfortunately, it is the reality of the market in Shanghai.

Currently, Medias in Shanghai begin to notice the phenomena. I have seen new apartments in Xuhui that they following the N-N-N policy: “No Price. No Reception. No Apartment.” They even don’t bother to talk to the end customers.

When I steps in to the sales office of a property in Yuanshen Rd. and Pudian Rd., I saw the even stranger notice. “Our apartment price is confidential. If you want to get noticed of the price, please pay 2000 RMB first.” Well. Well. Well. They asked me to pay 2000 RMB to know the price of their houses? Is this robbery?

When my friend said “The service I received to buy a house is worse than that I received to buy a cloth”, we all laughed out laud. True. Very True.

Where are the Houses

The big question in everyone’s brain is, WHERE ARE THE HOUSES?

The recently three years witness the blooming of the real estate industry. The price of houses in Shanghai doubled. The market strategy for real estate companies made the price for the house keep raising. For example, the property at Jinxiu Rd. rose from 6000 RMB per sq. m to 7200 RMB per sq. m in the last month (from Sept to Oct, 2003). So it is a good investment option to buy one or two apartments and sell it in one or two months. Now the magic Chinese “Relationship” or Guanxi come into play. If there are new houses, buyers will typically buy the houses using internal channels before they are released to the market. This is proved by the phenomena that second-hand new houses are available on Real Estate Agencies while the first hand new houses are not available from the Real Estate Developers.


I believe this is the typical economy bubble in the real estate industry. People buying the houses not for use, they just buy it for investment. When the majority of the buyers become investors, it is for sure the price will drop after they find out there are not enough buyers.

However, I do believe with more and more people moving to Shanghai – from worldwide or from country-wide, the demands for houses are still high. The prices will continue to rise after it drops for about one or two years.

Old Houses in Shanghai

Shanghai is a lovely city because it has a lot old houses. Each of them are telling their own history. Shanghai is unique since most of the old buildings reflects the unique history when foreign traders enters China and build their own style of building. Taking the France Club as an example, it was built in 1900’s by German and was rebuilt in 1928 and becomes the France Club.

France Club in 1928. Credit:

The old picture below take at 1930’s clearly show the France Club, the large grassland before it, the tall apartment (which still stands there till now) and the Mao Ming Road between them.


A centuary past and the building was still there, but the new owner is the five star hotel – the Garden Hotel. The Art Decro style building reminds me of the old times when 500 people went to Chen Yun Shang’s wedding at this palace, the famous film star at that time.

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

© Jian Shuo Wang

Some change did happened. A 120 meter tall building (with 34 floor) raised behind the old house. I love this architect so much because it combined the history and today together.

© Jian Shuo Wang

There are so many old buildings of builders from different nationality in Shanghai. I am so interested to visit them, to find out the history behind them and learn how spendid and famous they were when they were “young”..

Update Jian Shuo Wang and Wendy’s Wedding September 25, 2004

Wendy and I got married at this fantastic place on September 21, 2003. This place means a lot to me.

My Previous House at Meilong

I suddenly missed my previous house at Meilong badly. It was on the forth floor of a 6-floor apartment building, which is 15-minute-walk away from Lianhua Road Metro Station. The 64 sq meter apartment with two bed rooms, one guest room, one kitch, one rest room only cost me 600 RMB per month. That was a great deal and currently, I cannot image any apartment with less than 600 RMB, let along the two-bed room apartment.


© Jian Shuo Wang

Look at the nice and romatic bed room. I lived there for three years.

Hard to Buy a House in Shanghai

The temperature of Shanghai finally goes down to below 30 degree C. This is the ending of the two week exteremly high temperature – the Autumn Tiger. The number of empty taxi on the road dramatically increased today.

I went to see the newly opened house of Vanke City Garden. It is outside the outer ring road of Shanghai, which is very far from the city. To my surprise, the price has raised to 5800 RMB per sq. meter. The 127 sq. meters apartment will be about 740K RMB.

Nearby is the new houses which is about 1 to 2 million RMB. See the pictures below:


I am really shocked to see the rapid price raise in real estate. When I bought my aparment in 2001, it is only 530K in total. Now, it is raised to about 900K. It is not among the highest raise. Some house in Xinzhuang was 4000 RMB/sq.meter laster year and are not 7000 RMB/sq.meter this year. It is keep increasing every DAY.

It is so strange that the sales representitives and the customers seems to be in the swapped position. Customers are begging for help from the sales representives to do them a favor to get a house. It is also a common practice to offer several thousand fee to hire the representives to get an apartment. Houses will be booked immediately after they are offered to market. I found the new real estate project from Vanke – the Four Seasons City at Bao Shan (which is very very far from the downtown Shanghai) opened for sale yesterday (Aug 30, 2003). When I call them this morning, the sales lady on the other side of the line told me that all the apartments had already been sold on yesterday. It is unbelievable, but it is true…