Shitong Qiao (Yale University - Law School) has posted Small Property, Big Market: A Focal Point Explanation (American Journal of Comparative Law, Vol. 63, No. 1 (2015), Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Based on one-year of fieldwork, this article presents a real estate market without legal titles to challenge formal property rights as a precondition for markets. In Shenzhen, the iconic city of China’s market economy, more than half of the buildings are developed and transferred against the law. These illegal buildings are called small properties because their property rights are "smaller" (weaker) than legal properties. This article models the formation and operation of the small-property market as coordination games, and demonstrates that a focal point of rural land development and transfer coordinates players’ expectations to converge on the same equilibrium.