In moves aimed at easing the country’s deepening real estate crisis, five major Chinese cities have removed restrictions on home buying over the past week.
The latest two cities are Jinan and Qingdao in eastern China, which lifted all curbs on home purchases and selling on Monday.
Jinan and Qingdao are two of the biggest cities in Shandong province, the second most populous province. Qingdao had previously limited the number of homes that could be bought in two districts, while Jinan had similar restrictions.
Last week, three cities – Nanjing, Dalian and Shenyang – became the first cities to eliminate curbs on home-buying.
Nanjing, the provincial capital of affluent Jiangsu province, said it would let people buy flats without proof of eligibility in four districts, effectively easing its last restrictions on home purchases.
Dalian and Shenyang, two of the most populous cities in the northeastern province of Liaoning, separately announced they will no longer restrict the number of properties residents can buy in most parts of the city. Both cities also offered fresh subsidies for buyers and tax relief for sellers.
The announcements come on the heels of a series of nationwide support measures announced by Beijing for the property sector, including lower mortgage rates for first-time homebuyers.
The world’s second-largest economy is rolling back a crackdown on the property sector in a bid to revive its economy.
China’s debt-riddled property sector accounts for one-quarter of the state’s economic activity. It has been in a downward spiral since 2021 when the government moved to stop developers from accumulating debt.
The sector also contributes the bulk of revenues to local governments, which are currently burdened with nearly $12.8 trillion debt, through property taxes and land sales.
Smaller Chinese cities, meanwhile, are faced with a potential glut of unfinished homes, another economic and social strain that Beijing is trying to avoid. Analysts estimate the country is saddled with more than 50 million unsold or empty apartments at present.
Country Garden moves to extend debt maturities
Meanwhile, embattled developer Country Garden faces a new round of voting by creditors to extend several debt maturities on Monday, after having avoided default at the last minute twice this month to bring some respite to the crisis-hit Chinese property sector.
The voting, due to conclude by 10pm Hong Kong time (1400 GMT) on Monday, will have onshore creditors decide on approving a proposal by Country Garden to extend repayments of eight onshore bonds by three years.
The latest voting comes after the country’s largest private developer on September 1 won approval from creditors to extend payments by three years for a $533 million (about RM2.5 billion) onshore private bond.
That voting was delayed by two times before Country Garden’s proposal won support from 56% of participating creditors. It also managed to avoid default in the offshore market, with a last-minute bond coupon payment last week.
Country Garden’s bondholders on Monday will vote separately on proposals to extend maturities of eight onshore bonds, which were issued by the developer and a subsidiary and were set to mature and be puttable in 2023 and 2024.
Five payments due this month
Country Garden, one of the few large Chinese developers that have not defaulted on debt obligations, has been facing liquidity pressure with reduced available funds as sales plunged, its interim financial statements show.
It faces $14.9 billion worth of debts due within 12 months, while its cash level are around 101 billion yuan as of end-June, according to the company’s interim financial statement.
In the offshore market, Country Garden has at least five coupon payments due this month, including two relatively sizable dollar bond coupons worth $15 million due on Sept 17, and $40 million on Sept 27, each with a 30-day grace period.
Any default by Country Garden would exacerbate the country’s spiralling real estate crisis, put more strain on its struggling banks and could delay the recovery of not only the property market, but the overall Chinese economy.
- Reuters, with additional editing by Vishakha Saxena and Jim Pollard
NOTE: This report was updated, with the headline amended and further details added (of two latest cities to ease home buying curbs) on Sept 11, 2023.