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Saturday, October 25, 2014 12:25 PM

Home Prices Drop in 69 of 70 Chinese Cities; Did the Pool of Greater Fools Run Out?

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China eased purchase restrictions last month ending its four-year campaign to contain home prices. And what a ridiculous campaign it was. Prices are down less than 1% this month and less then 1% year-over-year.

Bloomberg reports China Home-Price Drop Spreads as Easing Doesn’t Halt Fall.

Prices dropped in 69 of the 70 cities in September from August, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement today, the most since January 2011 when the government changed the way it compiles the data. They fell in 68 cities in August.

The central bank on Sept. 30 eased mortgage rules for homebuyers that have paid off existing loans, reversing course after a four-year campaign to contain home prices as Premier Li Keqiang seeks to prevent economic growth from drifting too far below the government’s 7.5 percent annual target. Home sales slumped 11 percent in the first nine months of this year.

Developers will keep prices attractive as they open more projects toward the end of the year to meet sales targets, boosting supply and increasing competition, Ping An Securities Co. Shenzhen-based analyst Yang Kan wrote in an Oct. 14 report.

New-home prices fell 0.7 percent from August in Beijing and 0.9 percent in Shanghai, according to the government. The port city of Xiamen in southern Fujian province was the only city where prices didn’t fall, remaining unchanged from the previous month.

Prices in Shanghai fell 0.8 percent from a year earlier, the first annual decline since December 2012, compared to a 17.5 percent jump in January this year. Hangzhou, the capital of southeastern Zhejiang province, had the biggest decline among all cities, with 7.6 percent.

The average new-home price in 100 cities tracked by SouFun Holdings Ltd. fell 0.9 percent in September from August, dropping for the fifth consecutive month. The price rose 1.1 percent from a year earlier, narrowing for a ninth month in a row, China’s biggest real estate website owner said.

The People’s Bank of China’s new rules give homeowners who have paid off their mortgages and want a second property the same advantages as first-time buyers, including a 30 percent minimum down payment, compared to at least 60 percent previously, and interest-rate discounts of as much as 30 off the central bank’s benchmark. The PBOC also eased a ban on mortgages for people without home loan debt who want to buy a third home, allowing banks determine down payments and rates.

Home sales in September jumped 40 percent from August, the biggest increase this year, according to Bloomberg News calculations, based on a government report earlier this week.
Did the Pool of Greater Fools  Run Out?

All it took for china to reverse course was a .8% year-over-year decline.

Home sales are down 11% this year, but that may not last long if September is any indication. Then again, the easing of restrictions may have suckered in the last remaining greater fools.

Either way, I laugh at the assessment analyst Yang Kan who says "developers will keep prices attractive as they open more projects toward the end of the year to meet sales targets".

The only thing that will make prices attractive is a 50% decline in price. That's how big China's property bubble is. 

Even in China the pool of greater fools will eventually run out. Perhaps it already has.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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