Nearly 90 percent of Chinese families own their houses or flats, a figure much higher than the world level, which stands at about 60 percent, according to a report issued by Southwestern University of Finance and Economics and the People's Bank of China on Sunday.
According to interviews with nearly 4,000 urban families, 85.4 percent of them own their homes. The rate of home ownership is even higher in rural areas, reaching 94.6 percent, according to the report.
Each urban household owns 1.22 apartments on average, higher than the number of 0.74 released by China International Capital Corporation in 2010.
Netizens responded with heated online discussions: Does that mean Chinese people are much richer than their counterparts in other parts of the world?
"Neither my friends nor I own our own flat. But I don't believe all of us are below the average income level. Isn't the report ridiculous?" said a netizen named Fang Fushun on sina.com, the country's largest portal website.
"I find the term 'family' tricky. How do you define a 'family'? A Chinese family may consist of 12 members, but owns only one house. A family also can be a couple with several houses. So I feel the report is meaningless," said Wang Xia, 28, who has worked in Shanghai as an accountant for five years but still cannot afford the down payment on an apartment.
"The report finding does not contradict the strong demand for housing in China's market," said Li Daokui, a former adviser to the central bank monetary policy committee and a professor at Tsinghua University, in an interview with the Beijing Morning Post on Sunday.
Many young people are leaving home to work and live in other cities, so they need a new home, he said.
According to statistics from the Shanghai statistics bureau, the average per capita living space in Shanghai reached 17 square meters in 2011, up from 15.5 square meters in 2004.
A report from the China Index Academy in April showed that the average real estate price in 100 cities dropped for the first time on both a monthly and yearly basis since China initiated its new round of housing market control measures in April 2010.
The measures included tighter lending policies, higher down payments, bans on the purchase of a third home, property tax trials and a greater supply of low-income housing.