The Supply of Housing and Real Estate in China: Land Allocations and Building Densities

PIs: Albert Saiz (Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Center for Real Estate, MIT)
       Thies Lindenthal (Department of Land Economy, Cambridge University)
       Siqi Zheng (Department of Construction Management, Tsinghua University)


The dynamics of housing supply in urban China are not yet entirely well understood, including the timing of land development, the quantitative and price responses to increased land allocations from local governments, and the vertical strategies of developers and local governments. Our research team will examine both horizontal (land) and vertical (FAR) aspects of housing supply in urban China. First, we will collect successive 5-year plans at the national, provincial, and city levels to document and codify all the land allocations to provincial governments, noting how the provincial governments “pass” land allocations to municipal governments. We will then combine this land allocation data with data on housing prices and construction costs. Later in the project, we will track China's rapid urbanization using remotely sensed data released by an ongoing European space mission, deriving a measure of urbanization intensity by not only registering the extent of surface area dedicated to urban uses but also the volume of developed space and estimates of the development intensity for a large and representative sample of Chinese cities. Bringing together these data sources will allow us to better understand how the supply of land and built space respond to market demand pressures and government policies.