Huge year-on-year decline seen in holiday week property sales

Updated: 2011-10-11 11:43

By Wang Ying (China Daily)

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Huge year-on-year decline seen in holiday week property sales

People visit a property sale exhibition during the weeklong National Day holiday in Shanghai last week. Sixteen of China's 20 major cities saw year-on-year sales volume shrink during the holiday. [Photo/China Daily]

SHANGHAI - During the weeklong National Day holiday, there was no sign of a shopping spree in China's property market. Real estate agents were out in the cold as the trading volume in 20 major cities dropped an average of 32.4 percent in the first week of October compared with the same period last year.

Data collected by the China Index Academy showed that 16 of the nation's 20 major cities saw year-on-year sales volume shrink, in eight cities by at least 50 percent. Ningbo, in Zhejiang province, tumbled 78.04 percent and Shenzhen by 90.26 percent during the holiday.

About 1,039 apartments were sold in Beijing from Oct 1 to 7, a 22.8 percent decline from the same period last year, according to Beijing Real Estate Association statistics released on Saturday.

With 314 units sold, Hefei, capital of Central China's Anhui province, saw about half the volume it had during the holiday last year.

"Apparently, sales this September and October are disappointing, and we predict the standstill between buyers and sellers will continue into the fourth quarter," said Chen Sheng, deputy director of the China Index Academy in Shanghai.

In Shanghai, only 398 units of newly built commercial properties, or 44,700 sq m - 78.5 percent fewer sq m year-on-year - were traded during the National Day holiday, according to figures released by Century 21 China Real Estate's Shanghai market research department.

Meanwhile, property prices climbed 13.7 percent to reach an average of 21,800 yuan($3,417) a sq m.

The rising property prices and low trading volume have tarnished the traditional sheen of September and October as the best property sales season.

In September, 571,000 sq m of newly built commercial properties were traded in Shanghai, 58.5 percent less than the same period in 2010; but the average price rose 6.5 percent year-on-year to 22,600 yuan a sq m.

"There is no sign that the central government will lessen its resolve to cool down the housing market, and the bearish sentiment will hover over it," said Huang Hetao, an analyst at Century 21 China Real Estate in Shanghai.

The big-name property developers failed to deliver satisfying discounts to home buyers, and the smaller developers' discounts were low enough to trigger wide speculation that their capital flow was less resilient.

"Neither situation would help shore up the ailing housing market," Chen added.

Song Huiyong, research director at Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Ltd, is also bearish about a short-term recovery of the domestic property market.

According to Song, many medium-sized and small property agencies closed recently because of the lack of trade.

"Unlike large property agents, which have been shifting their focus from the secondary property market to the new-home market, there is little maneuvering room for small and medium-sized agents. And in the coming months, more of them will be on the brink of closing," said Song.

"I am not quite sure about the situation in December because of the large supply of affordable housing by the end of the year," Chen said.

By late September, China had started building 9.86 million affordable-housing units, or 98 percent of the amount planned for this year, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development said on its website on Monday.

Fourteen provinces and municipalities, including Hebei, Shanxi, Liaoning, Shandong, Beijing and Chongqing, and the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, had exceeded their full-year targets, the statement said.

The government vowed to start construction on 10 million units of affordable housing this year, part of its five-year plan to build 36 million units by 2015 in an effort to give more low-income households access to housing.

Premier Wen Jiabao said in July that construction of the planned 10 million affordable housing units this year should begin before the end of November.

Zheng Jinran in Beijing and Xinhua News Agency contributed to this story.