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Rental market moves from strength to strength
By Nie Xin

The housing rental market in Shanghai continues to rise this year after a strong 2011. According to an industry report, high-end apartments in the city center are still the most in demand by expatriates and local white-collar workers with high incomes.

In the first half year of 2012, there was a 5- to 10-percent rise in rents in the high-end market in Shanghai. Some serviced apartments in downtown areas have a more than 90 percent occupancy rate, according to Joanna Real Estate, one of the largest real estate consulting firms in China.

Joanna Real Estate says expats take into consideration many factors when they chose where to live. This includes location, transportation, quality of neighborhood, security, noise, views, the proportion of neighbors of foreign nationalities, nearby shopping malls and restaurants, as well as education facilities.

"Singles prefer serviced apartments downtown while more expat families tend to choose apartments with two or three living rooms or villas with more pleasant environments," says Alice Ai, marketing manager at Joanna Real Estate's Shanghai office.

John Zhang, marketing manager of Fullhome Real Estate & Relocation Services, says: "Functional apartments with an additional sanctum or small room for the ayi will be preferred."

According to a report by Fullhome, Lakeville Regency, Casa Lakeville, The Summit and 8 Park Avenue in Puxi, along with Shimao Riviera Garden and Yandlord Garden in the Pudong New Area continue to be popular among expats.

The villas and apartments in Xujing area in suburban Qingpu District, Huacao area in Minhang District, Biyun community and Kangqiao area in Pudong are also popular among expats. These areas are close to international schools.

About 40 percent of the CEOs and high-level managers working at big international companies based in Shanghai Jinqiao Export Processing Zone live in Pudong's Biyun community, according to a report by Joanna Real Estate.

The residents here generally have high requirements such as central air conditioning, floor heating or radiators, Western kitchen appliances like built-in ovens and dishwashers.

"A minimalist style of decoration and furniture are more popular among them," Zhang adds.

In the downtown center, rent for an apartment with two or three livings rooms ranges from 20,000 yuan (US$3,175) to 35,000 yuan per month. Villas can range from 40,000 yuan to 55,000 yuan per month.

The central government's measures to curb housing prices has had an effect on the rental market, according to Ai with Joanna Real Estate.

"Part of the requirements on purchasing residences have been shifted to renting, so rents will still rise in the future," she says.

Zhang says more white-collar workers with high incomes and oversees Chinese are looking to rent apartments, which will ensure the rental market stays strong for the forseeable future.

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