As cities in many parts of China have experienced winter smog and haze, Hainan island is becoming more of a desirable destination for those wishing to buy property.
Interest from buyers and potential buyers from Beijing has seen a growing number fly to the island to buy or inquire about holiday homes to escape the smog. Rising property prices reflect this trend, Chinese media reported.
Ocean Flower Island at Danzhou in western Hainan, a property developed by Evergrande group, was put on the market on Dec 28 for 12.2 billion yuan ($1.85 billion) but after just one hour the developer soon announced a price rise.
Li Mo, the planning director of real estate division of Hainan Construction Investment Co, a part of China Communication Construction Co, said that it is hard to tell exactly whether the smog hitting northern China contributed to the rising property prices in Hainan.
Sanya, one of the most popular destinations for second-home buyers on the island, boasting the highest property prices as well, saw prices actually decrease in 2015. The average house price drop was 14.97 percent, according to data from the Sanya Statistics Bureau.
Cold weather in many parts of China also played a role in enticing potential buyers.
More than 70 percent of property buyers in 2015 did not live on the island, said Wang Jing, general secretary of Hainan real estate industry association.
"To escape the smog and the cold by coming to Sanya seems like common sense for many people," Li said.
Elderly Beijing couple Weng Naiqiang and Wen Jinlian, have been relishing the sunshine and clean air in Xinglong, on Hainan's east coast, and were delighted that they purchased a property for 700,000 yuan on the island in 2011.
"We are lucky. We go to Hainan before the smog hits Beijing and come back to Beijing in summer," Weng said. "My wife used to suffer from high blood pressure in Beijing, but thanks to the warm climate and fresh air here, she is better now. And we have neighbors from all around China. Our life here is good."
Zhang Runkai, 81, also from Beijing, chose Sanya as his second home to escape the pollution. He decided to buy a house in the city after three years of renting an apartment to get a feel for his new home.
"We spent 3 million yuan on an apartment in Sanya Bay in 2009. It was a lot of money, but well worth it. Winter is hard for us, smog makes life in Beijing much harder," Zhang said. "My wife was suffering from respiratory disease, and the symptoms reoccurred in winter and never improved in Beijing, but she is clearly better now in Sanya."
Wang Zhilin, a 70-year-old retired solider from Suihua in Heilongjiang province, is looking for a 50-square-meter apartment with his wife and they have 700,000 yuan ready to buy one in Hainan.
According to data released by the island's department of construction, investment in real estate in 2015 reached 170.4 billion yuan, a 19 percent increase from 2014. Total sales area of commodity units reached 10.52 million square meters, and registered an average price increase of 0.3 percent year-on-year to 9,339 yuan.
The island has attracted almost all the major real estate developers to the market, including COFCO, China Resources (Holdings) Company, Agile, Greenland group, Evergrande group, Poly group, China Vanke and Country Garden.