Developers unleash spam to lure buyers

Updated: 2011-10-06 08:00

By Zhao Lei (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Judging from many text message in-boxes in China, real estate developers and sales agents are hungry, if not desperate.

"On the very first day of the National Day holiday, more than 30 spam text messages swarmed into my mobile phone. By 3 pm today (Tuesday), I had been bombarded by 187 messages," a netizen writing as "Blue Sky" wrote on a local forum in Zhenjiang, East China's Jiangsu province.

Most of the messages the netizen posted were promoting real estate projects. Each included a hotline number at the end.

"I am wondering, have these real estate developers become insane?"

Other netizens shared similar "bitter experiences" with developers.

"Their intention is nothing but to make you feel annoyed and then persuaded to take out your wallet to buy a house," read a comment by "Xinzaza".

There seemed to be no escape.

"Twelve is the number of advertising messages I received when I was in my washroom!" Yangtse Evening News quoted an unnamed netizen as saying. "I even didn't have time to delete all of them during my stay in the washroom!"

Zhenjiang residents are not alone.

"My husband and I received at least eight to 10 short messages of this kind of house-selling spam every morning since Oct 1," Zhao Ling, a 40-year-old Beijing housewife, told China Daily. "Those houses range from luxury townhouse in Qingdao (in Shandong province) to white-collar apartment in Tianjin, as well as seaview villa on Hainan Island."

"Some even say they can provide local hukou (permanent residency permit) if you buy a big house there," she said.

Many spam recipients said they believe that stagnant real estate markets around the country have led developers and their marketing staffs to launch the nettlesome mobile campaigns.

Only 268 residential apartments were sold from Oct 1 to 3 in Beijing, a 31 percent decrease from a year ago, official statistics show.

Developers in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, admitted it was embarrassing to see so few people come to their display hall, let alone make a purchase, in September, a traditional golden season for the real estate industry, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Their counterparts in Taiyuan, North China's Shanxi province, even used movie tickets to try to lure buyers to their display hall during the National Day holiday, the report said.

"The market remains grim, so they (developers) come to me," a salesman for a Beijing-based online marketing company told China Daily. He would not give his name.

"Not long ago a famous villa developer in Beijing employed my company to send as many as eight million text messages to potential buyers, most of whom are rich people," he said, boasting that he charges a "reasonable" 0.03 yuan (half a cent) for each short message.

Some real estate information providers, including and, also are involved in the lucrative service for developers.

"We have a data pool of potential homebuyers in our system," said an insider who has worked at Soufun and Sina's real estate channel and who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"After a developer bought advertisement on our websites, we would compliment them with a free service of sending a certain number of text messages to their target buyers."

She herself is a victim of spam.

"I've seen seven text messages crashing into my mobile phone in succession. That day was a sunny Saturday, and it was ruined by those detestable spam."

China Daily

(China Daily 10/06/2011 page2)