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China’s Real Estate Sees Steepest Price Drop Since 2014

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China’s Real Estate Sees Steepest Price Drop Since 2014

Key Points

New home prices in China fell by 0.7% month-on-month in May, marking the fastest decline since October 2014.
The real estate sector has faced severe issues since mid-2021, including developer defaults and halted construction projects.
Measures like a 300 billion yuan fund and eased mortgage rules provided some relief but failed to fully address liquidity issues.
Major cities see some market boosts, while smaller cities continue to struggle with oversupply and population outflows.
Property investment fell by 10.1% in the first five months of the year, and home sales decreased, reflecting broader market instability.

China’s real estate sector, once a powerful engine propelling the nation’s economic growth, has encountered significant turbulence recently. In May, new home prices plummeted at their fastest rate in over nine and a half years, illustrating the depth of the struggles within the property market. This downturn has persisted despite various government interventions aimed at stabilising the situation.

Eleventh Month of Decline in China’s Real Estate: New Home Prices Down 0.7%

In May, the month-on-month decline in new home prices stood at 0.7%, marking the eleventh consecutive month of falling prices. This rate of decline was the steepest since October 2014, signalling serious distress in the market. On an annual basis, prices dropped by 3.9%, a noticeable increase from April’s 3.1% fall. Such trends highlight the persistent challenges in revitalising the property sector and restoring confidence among buyers and investors alike.

China’s Property Sector Faces Crisis Since Mid-2021

China’s property sector, which had previously played a crucial role in the country’s economic expansion, has been marred by multiple crises since mid-2021. The sector’s woes are evident in several high-profile issues, including developers defaulting on their debts and stalling construction on pre-sold housing projects. These problems have exacerbated the financial instability of many real estate enterprises, further eroding market confidence.

Government Allocates ¥300 Billion to Clear Housing Inventory

In response to these challenges, the Chinese government has implemented several measures to stabilise the property market. A substantial 300 billion yuan ($41.35 billion) has been allocated to clear the massive housing inventory. Additionally, efforts have been made to cut down payments and ease mortgage rules. While these measures have provided some relief, particularly in the second-hand home market in major cities, they have not fully addressed the liquidity issues plaguing real estate enterprises or the confidence crisis in the new-home market.

Analysts Predict Divergence in Property Market Trends

Analysts offer a nuanced view of the future trajectory of China’s property market. Xu Tianchen, a senior economist at the Economist Intelligence Unit, noted that recent policies have given a boost to the second-hand home market in major cities. However, the fundamental liquidity problems of real estate enterprises remain unresolved. Moreover, the confidence crisis in the new-home market persists.

Meanwhile, Nie Wen, an economist at Shanghai Hwabao Trust, pointed out that China’s property market seems set to diverge. In large cities, individuals who have been able to renovate and sell their existing homes will likely drive new home sales. Conversely, real estate in smaller cities might continue its downward trend. This decline is due to an oversupply of housing and population outflows.

Property Investment Drops 10.1% in First Five Months

The broader indicators of the property market’s health are equally concerning. Property investment fell by 10.1% in the first five months of the year, worsening from a 9.8% decline in January-April. Home sales have also decreased at a faster pace during the January-May period, reflecting the pervasive lack of confidence and financial difficulties faced by both developers and buyers. Nearly all of the 70 cities surveyed reported a drop in home prices, underscoring the widespread nature of the market’s downturn.

China’s Real Estate: Navigating a Path Forward

China’s real estate sector is navigating a complex landscape fraught with financial instability and declining buyer confidence. While government measures have provided some support, particularly in the second-hand market, significant challenges remain in revitalising the new-home sector and addressing the liquidity crises of real estate enterprises. The divergence between large and small cities further complicates the market’s recovery prospects. As the property market continues to evolve, stakeholders will need to closely monitor these trends and adapt their strategies to navigate the ongoing challenges effectively.

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