Edit Blog Post
Published: August 10th 2007
Colorful Koy-fish in Suzhou's ponds make sure each has their mouth open for any possible morsels.
How does the "new" middle-class of China buy a first home and what might be the availability of these condo-style units, offered daily to multitudes of very eager Chinese buyers? The answer is easier to understand, by taking a look at the introduction-photo to the right, at all of the open-mouthed Coy-fish in the crowded pond, struggling and gasping to be heard: "I want one, please give me one, I just married and we need one, here is my cash and take some for yourself, I want one too, I can afford it now, .... etc., etc.".
It is difficult for a foreigner to enter the lifes of Chinese families, especially not speaking the language. A long term visitor can only "scratch the surface" trying to absorb, comprehend, and live with China's 5,000 year old customs.
Teaching at Taizhou Teachers College has offered me the opportunity, as a long-time observer, to meet a variety of people, at different stations of life, in various cities of China, and experience with them some of their daily struggles.
To monitor a home-condo-auction in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, one of the fastest growing and most desirable of Chinese cities, was surely one of
so many buyers, too few units
Anxious prospective buyers at a condo-home-auction in Suzhou, Jiangsu also eagerly wait for their chance of owning a home, one of China's new morsels.
these unique experiences not often witnessed by a Western visitor:
As it is the dream of all American families, every Chinese family also longs for the opportunity to become a home-owner. The amount and size of construction in every Chinese city, large and small, clearly indicates, that the demand far out-wheighs the available supply.
New construction everywhere continues to mushroom, yet the housing boom must continue at a rapid rate to satisfy the needs of China's 1.4 billion people, who are daily becoming more wealthy and more conspicuous consumers.
The middle-class Chinese earns around 2-3 thousand Yuan a month ($250 to $400). He/she is now more able to afford a condo-style home. They are usually sold, still under construction. The cost depends on the square meter of the flat, on the city and its growth potential, and its location.
The condominiums are constructed in 15-20 large and land-scaped housing-blocks, each containing hundreds of units. They are built closely together as if fortresses, and each large building-block has a similar achitectual style.
Only the concrete shell of the interior rooms is offered the buyer. What happens to the rest of the interior will depend on how
These are a little too late for a share of the pie.
Late-arriving koy-fish have little chance for a morsel.
many Yuan are left after the sale to another lucky new home-owner.
For months, hopeful buyers will search for the new condo-offerings, especially those condominiums to be completed within a year in or near the city.
They will arrive at the "condo-auction" each, the earliest in the morning. They hope to secure a gold and red auction- seat, with cash and credit card in pocket (sorry no checks!), with hopes in their hearts, butterflies in the stomachs, chewing their fingernails, and ready to push, in Chinese fashion, a path to the front.
The seats fill quickly, and some auction-seats are contested in hot and animated debates/arguments, as the survival instincts of the buyers begin to shift into high gear. Assembled security by the dozens gather more closely near the crowd, knowing the reaction of a public, having the opportunity to own a home, the dream of a life-time for every Chinese.
(I was witness to some rather over-enthusiastic jossling.)
The auction begins at 8 a.m. sharp, as well-dressed agents, representing the sellers, gather by the locked doors, waiting to greet the first of many groups of anxious buyers. There are no discussions about the who, what,
"This one better be mine" !!!
My friend Peng points at the model of the complex and to the unit he hopes and dreams to purchase. It has a view and a garden balcony.
where, when, why, and how of the units, rather there is an immediate stampede towards the cashiers.
One signature and a significant down-payment is demanded by the agent, who makes sure the 100 Yuan notes are real. Their units are then marked as sold on a large red and gold board. The sold units are loudly and quickly announced to the waiting and depressed "later" arrivals, who still might have hopes in their heart for some devine intervention.
The loud groans let me know the dissappointments of many. The fewer cheers announce the joys of the lucky new owners.
The waiting takes hours, the process only minutes.
Chewed fingernails on the floor, and serious trash left behind by the departing lucky ones are cleaned up quickly by the condo-cleaning-crews. The seats are instantly re-occupied by the later-arrivals, and the process is repeated many times.
Only small groups of ten potential buyers are permitted to make their offers on any of the remaining units, until all have been sold. All this takes place in a few short hours in the morning.
For the proud new owners the wait of moving-in will be another year before
Gold covered and red ribben seat the early arrivals, and usually the lucky ones.
My friend Peng, one of the prospecitive home-buyers, has focused on the activity near the entrance door of the sales-building. The show is about to begin, and the moment of truth has arrived.
completion of the construction, but their faces clearly express relief in being successful at securing their dream of owning their home, in a quickly developing China.
They depart for the city in waiting busses, glancing with little sympathy at those still left behind, who will have to wait for their next chance of home-ownship, "maybe" some other day.
(There are 39 photos on two pages for your enjoyment. Your comments are always encouraged and appreciated.
I hope everyone is doing well, and my former German students have successfully passed their A.P. and I.B. examinations. Congratulations to my seniors, who will soon be off to college, making ready to change the world. I miss you all very much.)
Tot: 0.24s; Tpl: 0.02s; cc: 12; qc: 27; dbt: 0.0072s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb