A little over four years ago, I was doing the rounds of the real estate scene in Xian, home of the famous Terracotta Army, and the ancient capital of China, located in present-day Shaanxi Province. We were visiting a few housing and commercial projects and checking on the mood of the market (looking at things like prices and sales volumes). Xian is a Tier 2 city (generally defined as cities in China with roughly 3 to 15 million people), with a population of around 8 million (about the same size as London or New York). Having checked out a low-rise completed development on one side of the city, we drove through the center to another development under construction on the other edge of town.
Development in Xian at the time was in full flow. There were cranes everywhere. The city’s development had lagged behind the country’s Tier 1 cities and many of the Tier 2 cities as well. Xian was now catching up with a vengeance. I casually started counting cranes. It wasn’t easy given the number of them. But I ran out of steam at a little over 200 cranes during the 30-minute ride across town. Moreover, we had traveled east/west across the middle of the city, and had not ventured into the suburbs, where I am sure the crane count continued. Nor had we done a north/south crossing of the city.