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Massive Price Reduction on Pre-Owned Houses Is Expected

The week of May 1 (China’s Labor Day) used to be one of the hottest real estate sales weeks. However, this year, the sales volumes of both new houses and pre-owned houses have been low. For example, among the largest four cities with the highest housing prices in China, only 13,928 pre-owned housing units were sold in Beijing in April, a drop of 37 percent from the 22,192 units in March. Shanghai dropped by 27 percent and Guangzhou and Shenzhen were down by 14 percent and 19 percent, respectively.

On the other hand, a number of pre-owned housing units have kept coming on the market. Shanghai has around 200,000 units listed for sale. Approximately 13,000 units have been added each week for the past two months. However, only 17,000 units were sold in the entire month of April.

China had 606,000 foreclosed housing units auctioned off in 2022, an increase of 35.7 percent from 2021. Unlike the U.S. where a person can stop makjng payments on his mortgage and owe the bank nothing after declaring bankruptcy, Chinese law says that even if a person chooses to declare  bankruptcy or stop making payments on his mortgage, he is still liable for the remaining debt. Therefore, once a person is unable to make his mortgage payment, not only does he lose the down payment on his house as well as the subsequent payments, but he still has to pay the remaining debt and will be put on many spending restrictions until he clears his debt. This tough law gives people a great incentive to sell their house instead  of declaring bankruptcy if they do not want to continue their mortgage payments. China announced on April 25 that it implemented a nationwide real estate registration. Many people felt this was a step to prepare for adopting a real estate property tax, which is bad news to those who own many properties.

The “landlord tax” even came out faster than the property tax. Three provinces including Hebei, Hunan, and Yunan piloted the tax last year. The government will collect a 10 percent tax on rent if an individual rents out part of his own residence and 20 percent tax on rent from a non-residence.

All these factors will drive more people to sell their houses. A price reduction is unavoidable.

Source: VCT News, May 15, 2023