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The unexpected casualty of China's housing boom

Updated: 2016-08-31 14:02
By Zhu Qiwen (chinadaily.com.cn)

Under such circumstances, it is not difficult to understand why the central authorities had indentified in late July curbing asset bubbles one of their top priorities.

A month later, the housing market in Shanghai is still shrugging off these warnings. Local homebuyers rushed to buy over 5,000 apartments in the past week.

No less shocking is the ongoing flood of divorce of convenience in Shanghai as the latest response to media reports that tightened measures might be launched by Sept 1, including increased interest rates for home loans, higher down payments and tougher loan terms for purchase of a second home. Since divorce can enable a couple to hedge the purchase restriction for each household to buy more houses, it is quite obvious plenty of them are determined to take the chance.

As a result, local offices of civil affairs in Shanghai had been so overwhelmed by the surge of divorce that some of them had to issue a notice to persuade the eager couples away. It seems that local civil affairs offices have become a group of unexpected victims of the recent panic house buying in Shanghai.

As if to save their civil affairs colleagues from unbearable work load, Shanghai housing authorities made an announcement on Monday to refute reports suggesting they're considering new home-purchase restrictions, saying they will be sticking to the existing housing rules to ensure the stability of the market.

But it definitely takes more than such a vague statement to change those divorcing couples' bullish, if not blind, optimism on housing prices. Their eagerness to divorce indicates that they don't believe the housing boom will end anytime soon.

If that is the case, their divorce story may end in joy. But the Chinese economy may have too much housing bubbles to swallow.

If not, their marriage may turn out to be an unworthy sacrifice for the Chinese property market.

The author is a senior writer with China Daily.

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