China’s recent real estate boom may soon be grinding to a halt, leaving a huge gap between housing speculators with two or three idle pieces of property, and young graduates, couples, and migrant workers who can’t afford an apartment in cities where prices of 100,000 RMB per square meter (about $15,000 USD) rarely raises eyebrows.

Serviced apartments or “white collar apartments” could bridge the gap. Middlemen lease unfurnished apartments from landlords or real estate developers, spruce them up, and then sublet them to tenants while providing added services like housekeeping and maintenance.

Figures show that there were about 1 million sets of serviced apartments last year, a number that is expected to double by the end of 2016, according to a report by the China Hotel Association.  Seven out of ten of theses serviced apartments were leased from individual homeowners, while the rest came from real estate developers, shedding light on just how much the market has overbuilt and over bought.

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April Ma

Based in Beijing, April Ma writes on tech trends and covers startups that may (or may not) be the next BATs. Reach her at April.ma@technode.com or Mafangjing (Wechat).