“Li Nan has real estate fever. A 27- year-old steel trader at China Minmetals, a state-owned commodities company, Li lives with his parents in a cramped 700- square-foot apartment in west Beijing. Li originally planned to buy his own place when he got married, but after watching Beijing real estate prices soar, he has been spending all his free time searching for an apartment. Act now, he figures, or live with Mom and Dad forever. In the last 12 months such apartments have doubled or tripled in price, to about $400 per square foot. ‘This year they’ll be even higher,’ says Li in the Jan. 11 issue of Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Millions of Chinese are pursuing property with a zeal once typical of house-happy Americans. Some Chinese are plunking down wads of cash for homes. Others are taking out mortgages at record levels. Developers are snapping up land for luxury high- rises and villas, and the banks are eagerly funding them. Some local officials are even building towns from scratch in the desert, certain that demand won’t flag. And if families can swing it, they buy two apartments: one to live in, one to flip when prices jump further.”
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