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House prices in China have been growing really fast due to the amazing GDP growth of the country. I've been reading though that whilst there are so many buildings being built, it's mainly due to the fact that people are wanting to buy them in order to sell them later and that in actual fact, none of these buildings are being rented out, because so few people can afford to live in them.

Is there any truth to this? Can anyone offer any evidence? The Chinese government I would assume would be keeping pretty tight lipped about any research suggesting that there is a property bubble, so is all the evidence purely anecdotal?

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    I think the answer to this question should also make an effort to figure out what the vacancy rate is in a country with a matured economy so we have a baseline for what is normal. – Kit Sunde Mar 23 '11 at 6:42
  • @Kit Sunde -- while interesting, it's not part of answering the question to drag in comparisons with other countries. – Russell Steen Mar 23 '11 at 19:26
  • This is the reality in China actually, with most of the houses in major cities unaffordable to normal people. The huge gap between the rich and the poor is causing problems like 'hating the rich' etc. But things are certainly getting better. – Rescy_ Jul 28 '15 at 9:56
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I found one article suggesting that 51% of sold housing in Shanghai is vacant (17-Aug-2010). The article also suggests that this is lower than in Beijing and Hainan, but offers no links. Another article (10-Sep-2010) quotes an analyst estimating the vacancy rate for commercial housing stock is between 25 to 30 per cent. And according to this third article (12-Nov-2010), the issue of housing vacancies is being paid special attention in China's latest census.

So the best answer to your question would seem to be a qualified no: while the vacancy rate appears to be quite high, "most" properties in China are not vacant (at the time of writing, and subject to a lack of reliable data).

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