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Yopark leads the way in serviced apartments
By Cherry Cao

YOPARK, a serviced apartments provider with 10 years' experience helping expatriates, aims to expand business to other Chinese cities, since market prospects are promising.

It is the country's largest provider of serviced residences leased exclusively from individual landlords. Listings cover more than 1,100 apartments in 20 developments across the city's major upscale residential communities under management.

From the second half of this year, Yopark will gradually expand to first-tier cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou and second-tier cities such as Jinan, Xiamen, Chengdu, Shenyang, Qingdao and Changsha, Quan says.

By 2014, Yopark's overall serviced apartments portfolio is expected to reach around 15,000 units and staff is expected to increase to around 3,000 by 2014, compared with more than 300 at this time.

To facilitate growth, Yopark's model calls for joining forces with commercial real estate developers.

In September, Yopark signed a contract forming a strategic partnership with Shimao Property, one of the country's major developers known for large-scale, high-quality, integrated real estate projects.

As planned, Yopark will get involved in earlier stages of property development at Shimao commercial projects cities such as Jinan, Xiamen, Qingdao and Shenyang, providing consult services aimed at marketing serviced residences.

The company also plans to diversify operations.

"Leasing apartments owned by individual landlords remains our core business at the moment," co-founder Quan says. "However, in the long term, en-bloc property management might be another important engine for growth while Yopark will also become a brand operator in the serviced residency market."

Yopark offers flexible leasing package, from three days to one year.

Industry data suggests the country's service apartment market continued to demonstrate strong momentum in the third quarter, with rentals and occupancy rates remaining strong.

In Shanghai, for instance, residential rents increased by 1.5 percent quarter on quarter to 177.5 yuan (US$) per square meter per month during the July-September period, extending its rally. Year on year, rents were up 5.9 percent, Savills said in its latest research. For the serviced apartment sector, rents rose by 1.6 percent from the previous quarter, while city-wide occupancy remained above 92 percent.

Beijing also saw a similar trend. Serviced apartment rents climbed 1.1 percent from the second quarter to an average of 195.2 yuan per square meter in the capital city, Savills data showed.

A separate report released by Fosun Property Group also showed existing stock of high-end serviced apartments in Beijing and Shanghai total about 80,000 units at this time, though demand for apartments with a monthly rent of around 10,000 yuan stands at around 430,000 units.

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