A Spanish developer has come up with a novel way of increasing property sales by building a new project with Chinese style buildings aimed specifically at Asian buyers.
Grupo MAIN has unveiled its development of 22 homes in Fuenlabrada, an industrial suburb 17 miles south of Madrid, that is built in a Chinese style courtyard with pavilion, ponds and an entrance gate topped with a roof reminiscent of a Far Eastern temple.
‘The Chinese have a saying; crisis is synonymous with opportunity. We’re building for the Chinese because they are a very wealthy community in Spain and the rest of the world,’ explained Jose Parra, chief executive of the Spanish developer.
His company believes that expat Chinese will want to buy the homes designed using feng shui, a system designed to maximise positive energy flow. It has been known for Chinese buyers to reject a property on the advice of feng shui practitioners.
The project aims to be completed in 2014 with the company planning a further 70 once the first scheme is finished.
While British buyers have struggled to get mortgages from banks crippled by the global financial crisis, strong economic growth in Asia has created immense wealth, fuelled by manufacturing, construction and commodities. The number of US$ millionaires in Asia outnumbered North America for the first time in 2011.
It is not surprising that the Spanish developer is using all the tactics possible to attract Chinese buyers. A belief that certain numbers bring good or bad luck is also relevant. Some buildings in China change floor numbers to omit the number four because it sounds like the word for death in Chinese, while the number eight is considered lucky as it sounds like the word for prosperity.
While feng shui adherents believe ponds and fountains help positive energy flow, they dislike sharp angles as they break the path of energy.
Beliefs in feng shui manifest most strongly in the designs of buildings in Hong Kong and Singapore. For instance, a residential block facing Hong Kong's Repulse Bay waterfront has a hole in the middle purportedly to allow dragons that live on a mountain behind to drink water from the bay.
However, younger more western minded buyers can pay less attention to these traditions. Those buying as an investment were keener to get a good bargain than good feng shui, according to Michelle Zhang, head of property consultancy DTZ's China desk, who changed her telephone number to include more number eights after taking the job.
‘It's something nice to have, but not a must have. As a priority on their shopping list, it comes after price and location,’ she said.