Has China’s Property Bubble Already Burst?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014
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A new report from a leading region securities firm claims that China’s overheated property market may have already entered a state of meltdown.

Analysts from Nomura say China’s real estate market has already entered a slump, and that Beijing’s policy-makers have no effective tools at their disposal to head off its impact on the nation’s economy.

Nomura points out that property investment saw negative growth in four of China’s biggest provinces during the first quarter of the year, with Heilongjiang and Jilin in the northeast logging declines in excess of 25 per cent.

According to Nomura, these figures are merely a portent of further woes for China’s nationwide property market.

“To us, it is no longer a question of ‘if’ but rather ‘how severe’ the property market correction will be,” said the report, which was written by a trio of China property analysts from Nomura.

The pessimistic outlook is supported by figures from market data provider China Real Estate Index System, which indicate that property sales in terms of volume fell by nine per cent month-on-month and 19 per cent year-on-year in April for the 44 cities they follow.

While average home prices gained 0.1 per cent in April compared to March, as well as 9.1 per cent compared to the same period a year previously, they remain the lowest sequential gains in nearly two years.

Nomura expects the slump in China’s real estate market to have a severe impact on China’s economy, dragging GDP down to under six per cent for 2014. Its analysts estimate that real estate and associated sectors comprise 16 per cent of China’s economic output, while other experts believe that the figure could be as high as 25 per cent.

Nomura analyst Zhiwei Zhang added that Beijing has no effective means at its disposal for effectively heading off the slump or its potentially disastrous impact on China’s economy.

While GDP growth is likely to decline to under six per cent without large-scale stimulus measures, opening the spigots of monetary and fiscal policy to prop up growth would only delay the inevitable by around a year and could worsen the country’s housing oversupply, raising the likelihood of a hard landing for the economy.

“There is no policy that is universally right,” Zhang said.

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