Newspapers and Magazines
Most house-hunting is initially done online, as this provides information that is more up-to-date than that which a printed publication can offer. However, Shanghai does have a few English language newspapers and magazines which feature property listings. These are:
- City Weekend http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/
- Enjoy Classifieds http://enjoyclassifieds.com/
- China Daily http://www.chinadaily.com
- Shanghai Daily http://www.shanghaidaily.com
Most of the housing featured on Shanghai lifestyle websites is lower-end housing for expat students or English teachers. These are for young, single foreigners (or couples) normally in China for a short period and for whom affordability is the main concern. For accommodation more suited to families or expats on long term contracts who are not dictated to solely by price, a real estate agent is the best way to go. The following list of websites includes sites where different housing types are advertised regularly. See also the list of real estate agencies below, which also list properties.
- Asia Expat http://shanghai.asiaxpat.com
- Autumn Leaves http://www.autumnleaves.com.cn
- EMOO http://www.emoo.net
- Enter Shanghai http://www.entershanghai.info/find-a-home/Rental_Prices.php
Real Estate Agents
It is recommended that you use one or several real estate agents to locate several housing options for you. Give the agent your decision parameters:
- Need to be close to one of the two airports.
- Type of school required, if any.
- Proximity to shopping and entertainment areas.
- Do you have to be close to a hospital?
- Desired quality of air and “green” space.
- Do you want to be near your friends or company employees?
- The type of transportation you will use to go to work and/or shopping.
- How important is it to be close to your office?
The only drawback to using a real estate agent to help you find housing is the commission that you will have to pay once you have signed a rental agreement. Other than that, it is highly recommended to use agents in your search for housing as they not only understand the Chinese culture in terms of bargaining and Guanxi (relationship-building), they will also have a host of properties in their database for you to choose from as well as a keen knowledge of the city. Real estate agents can also provide after-sales services and act as an intermediary between you and the landlord (who, chances are, will not speak English).
Once you engage an agent to find properties for you, you will not have to worry about transportation. The agent will make sure that you are driven to see the various sites – you do not need a car for this purpose.
Chinese law dictates that the tenant and the property owner take joint responsibility for the real estate agent’s commission fee: each pays 35% of a month’s rent for rentals and 1% of the purchase price each for most purchases. However, if you are renting an upscale property with higher rents (in excess of 10,000 RMB per month) you can ask your real estate agent to negotiate that the landlord pay the whole commission. Should you do this, bear in mind that the owner will look to recoup this expense, usually in the form of higher rent.
There is plenty of housing in Shanghai, but it can take a while to find a place that you feel is suitable for both your budget and your tastes. One thing to bear in mind about Shanghai is that large chunks of entire districts were built by the same developer. This means that one villa/apartment/house will look exactly the same as another, and it can be hard to find something with a character of its own. Be sure, therefore, to give your real estate agent enough time to look for and find a place that suits your tastes and be prepared to do your share of viewings.
The following real estate companies all list properties online and have some staff who speak English:
- Joanna Real Estate: http://www.joannarealestate.com.cn/shanghai/
- Luna Real Estate: http://www.realtyshanghai.com/english/
- Metropolis: http://www.metropolis-sh.com
- Phoenix Property Agency: http://www.shanghai-realty.com
- Replus Real Estate: http://www.replusrealestate.com/Product.asp?cid=1
- Shanghai Expat: http://www.shanghaiexpat.com
- Shanghai Pearl Property: http://www.shrelocation.com/apartment%20table.htm
- Shanghai Properties: http://www.shanghaiprops.com