During the first quarter of 2021, there was a 98% increase in the sale of apartments and a 64% increase in the house market compared to the same period last year. Sales show a strong increase, as does the available stock of homes which for apartments increased by 75% compared to the first quarter of 2020. The communes of Ñuñoa and Santiago Centro lead in sales, with 18% and 12%, according to a report prepared by Colliers.
A clear improvement in the index of foreign direct investor confidence in Chile was evident in March compared to September 2020. Specifically, the confidence of foreign direct investors in the business was somewhat optimistic. This indicates progress as the previous measurement was more at a neutral level. 188 companies from different countries of origin and economic sectors participated in this measurement, equivalent to 55% of the foreign direct investment arriving in Chile.
During the first quarter of 2021, China remained the main buyer with a 40.9% share of total Chilean exports. Exports from the mining sector represented 74.4% of total shipments to the country, at $6,381 million and an increase of 57.6% over the same period last year. Non-mining exports accounted for 25.6% of shipments to China, totaling $2,191 million. Fruit and nuts exports accounted for 64.7%, registering an increase of 24.0% and totaling $1,418 million. This increase is largely explained by the 38.1% increase recorded by cherries, compared to March 2020.
AES Gener has shut down the 58.35 MW Central Laguna Verde thermal power plant in line with its plans to end its thermoelectric operations in Chile. The company has made a formal request to the Chilean Energy Commission (CNE) to permanently disconnect the two steam and one gas turbines that make up Central Laguna Verde. The company stated that this decision follows the company's strategy of accelerating its transition to renewable energies, a fundamental part of AES Gener's green energy strategy.
In 2020, Chile had the southern hemisphere's biggest planted area and the biggest export volume (more than 70 million boxes of cherries were exported). One of the strongest blows of the season was the rumor that COVID-19 had been detected in a box of Chilean cherries prior to the Chinese New Year. To combat this, Chile launched a promotional campaign which cost them more than $1.5 million. The campaign lowered their negative perception from 80% to 20%. For 2021, the number of planted hectares are expected to increase.