Business / Opinion

Prepare for pop of property bubble

By Ma Guangyuan (China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-05 08:19

Signs have emerged that the curtain is falling on the decadelong golden period for China's real estate sector.

The average price of newly built homes in China's 70 major cities rose 8.7 percent year-on-year in February, slightly lower than the 9 percent growth in January, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

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Compared with 62 cities that saw a price increase in January, the number decreased to 57 in February and the margin of the average price increase declined from 1.2 percent month-on-month to 0.7 percent. The increase in the average house price in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, the four first-tier cities that witnessed a frenetic price increase last year, fell below 20 percent year-on-year.

Along with the slowing price increases is the drastic drop in home sales. In Beijing, only 2,221 new homes were sold in February, a record low since 2007. The February volume for sales of secondhand houses was 5,441, decreasing by 38 percent from January and 46.3 percent from a year earlier, a new low in 24 months.

Some recent negative news on the housing sector has caused market worries. Vanke, a leading real estate developer in China, recently brought to the market one of its residential developments in the south of Beijing at an average 21,000 yuan ($3,370) per square meter, far below the previously anticipated 26,000 yuan. As the weather vane of China's housing prices, the price decline in Beijing is seen as signaling a possible price decline across the country.

The collapse of the fund chain floated by a developer in Zhejiang province has further aggravated pessimism over the rosy housing market. The drastic fall of the yuan's exchange rate against the dollar in February has also caused widespread concern over the negative impact caused by the possible exodus of international capital from the Chinese housing market.

There is no doubt that a chilly autumn is coming for China's housing market.

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