Real Estate Boom Encroaches on Nearby Farms, and the Law – the Beijing News

 Dy C 2007-12-17 U662P1T1D14534785F21Dt20071217090849If you don’t have a multimillion bank account but still want to afford a villa near some major Chinese city, you still have a shot in Chongqing. Read about a real estate rush into nearby rural neighborhoods, translated by CDT from the Beijing News:

Wei Erxu (韦尔旭), a tangerine and fish farmer at Jiulongpo District (九龙坡区) near Chongqing City, finds himself fighting against a local government that wants to dislocate villagers on a plot of 1,000-mu farmland to profit from a leasing deal with a developer of villas. His tangerine trees were poisoned in February 2003, because he refused to move. And his wife worries that their small fish pond will face the same fate.

He didn’t know what the land deal would amount to. Now he understands, passing through a gate to the soon-to-be-completed community of urban rich every day, he is aware that his fellow villagers have signed on, unwittingly, to surrender their land to enrich local officials and the developer, all of whom are risking an illegitimate land-leasing practice to build properties by taking advantage of land that was inked as “farmland.”

He is the only one who is holding out on his earthen shack. But that doesn’t prevent potential buyers like Zhang Ming (pseudonym), a professor who owns two properties but still wants one in a rural, quiet setting. And here at Jiulongpo, he can afford it, at 240,000 yuan per unit, a few times cheaper than one in downtown Chongqing. But the strange thing was, he didn’t learn about the project through TV or other media commercials, but from a flyer distributed by minivan in the neighborhood, which on paper was to become a farming-related project, in this case a mixture of gardening and husbandry businesses. But things turned out to be quite different, and much more profitable.

With land running out in the city and a lot of small- to mid-sized developers short of cash to bid up their land banks for development, a lot of attention has shifted to sub-rural areas like Jiulongpo, which is a 40-minute drive from Chongqing. But this carries risks too, especially at a time when Beijing has been trying to crack down on shady deals that take advantage of the low cost of agricultural land for commercial developments. Luckily, for now at least, the Jiulongpo development wasn’t blacklisted by the Chongqing government. Maybe soon it will be, as some officials raise concerns over similar practices. [Full Text in Chinese]

[Image of a two-story villa for sale at over 2,000 yuan a square meter, via sina.com]

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