Monday, December 17, 2007

Real Estate Hunting in Shanghai

Yes, we're doing it - taking the plunge into the real estate market here in Shanghai. Specifically we're looking for a home/investment while we're here in China.

We started the search yesterday afternoon, it seems that Sunday is the typical house hunting day here in Shanghai. We used a local agent (chinese speaking only) who showed us around specifically two districts/neighborhoods. First let me clarify by saying that a "house" typically refers to an apartment in a highrise building, usually new or only a few years old. An actual house by western standards can only be found outside of the downtown area in a section of Shanghai called Pudong. This is typically where many expat families live since it's close to most of the international schools. Also here, single family homes are called "villas" and are really nice. From what I've seen they look almost exactly like a western style home. Great, if you have a family! But we're not there yet - so we are really only interested in being downtown, close to the restaurants, shopping and all the other big city offerings Shanghai has which limits us to looking for an apartment!

The process of house hunting isn't entirely too different from the way it is in the States, you use an agent, go look at homes new and pre-lived in, but the main difference is in the appearance of those homes. I learned that typically if you buy a house that has already been lived in, you will completely re-model it which seems a bit wasteful to me. Strip everything out (all appliances, fixtures, flooring, everything!) and re-do the whole thing per your taste!

Labor is so cheap that it doesn't add too much to the cost of your new home. Amazing.
Anyway, back to my point - so pre-lived in homes look like crap. Seriously, when you go and look in a home that's for sale that is not brand new the homeowner usually is there in the place as you're looking through it and they don't do squat to make it look nice. We were in one place yesterday where the woman was still in the kitchen making dinner! AH....cultural differences.

I will keep you posted on our house hunting adventures.....:-)

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