There is probably only one other issue capable of challenging the Olympics for national attention in China right now: the collapse of the housing market in China, led by Shenzhen. Home prices in Shenzhen grew very rapidly in recent years (on the order of 50%-100% ), and now appear to be falling just as quickly.
But for some people, it might not be falling fast enough. Two years ago, Zou Tao organized a campaign to fight rising prices in Shenzhen called “Not Buy House” (explanation courtesy of ESWN). The government gave Zou Tao a firm “suggestion” that such mass campaigns were not welcome. Now, he’s back. Courtesy of Southern Metropolis, an article on his new campaign (连接):
Zou Tao organized a “Not Buy House” campaign two years ago. He is now initiating a new campaign: “Housing For Ten Thousand – Group Buying Activity”. He has already established a web platform at www.zoutao.com, and online voting and registration is currently on-going. Zou Tao says that he is doing this voluntarily without any compensation. His goal is to use a group-buying model to push down housing prices, and let those without homes find a place to live.
Zou Tao said that the campaign came online on July 4th, and more than 5200 people have already signed up to participate. He anticipates having 10,000 participants in Shenzhen by August. He says that this method can relieve a real need for Shenzhen residents, while also helping housing prices come to a soft landing. He calls this an efficient path for helping average Chinese solve their housing problem.
Website design and construction has all been done on a part-time basis by volunteers. In order to prevent speculators from taking the opportunity to make profits, all those who register must confirm their identity and current housing situation. Zou Tao also explained that the banks have credit databases that will be used to verify information when mortgages are handled.
Currently, the campaign is only in the exploration phase. They are trying to reach out to housing developers capable of providing standard housing units for less than 8000 RMB/sqm, or 6000 RMB/sqm (outside of Shenzhen proper). Zou Tao said that he hopes to use this campaign to create a platform that wins discounts on housing, mortgage, and interior decoration for all those participating.
Zou Tao believes that the 8000 RMB/sqm price is a “win win” price point. It’s a price that average citizens can accept, and on the other other side, by bypassing real estate brokers and picking up unsold volume, it will provide liquid capital for real estate developers.
PS. By the way, as full disclosure… I could swear I first saw this story mentioned on a different English-language blog, but now I can’t figure out where I might’ve seen it. (Thought it was ESWN, but don’t see it there yet.) So, whoever else wrote about it, I didn’t mean to steal your thunder, and thanks for the inspiration.