Real estate market set to get policy boost

By Cheng Yu (Chinadaily.com.cn) 08:25, February 19, 2024

Potential homebuyers look at a property model in Taiyuan, Shanxi province. [WEI LIANG/CHINA NEWS SERVICE]

Following a series of supportive measures from housing and financial authorities, China's property market is expected to see a mild pickup in major cities after the Spring Festival holiday, which extended from Feb 10 to Saturday, industry experts said on Sunday.

Their comments came as major state-owned banks and a number of local governments launched policies before and during the holiday to support the real estate sector.

The Bank of Communications said it had placed 1,442 property projects on a list eligible for financing assistance as of Feb 13, and had already disbursed loans to some developers. The Agricultural Bank of China said on Feb 11 that it had provided financing for more than 2,700 real estate projects.

Such moves were also part of broader efforts by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the National Financial Regulatory Administration to launch a city-centered financing coordination mechanism to support the real estate sector in late January.

Under the mechanism, a "white list" has been drawn up to meet the reasonable financing demands of developers nationwide.

Lu Wenxi, chief analyst at Centa-line Property, said the intensive bailout policies released before the Spring Festival holiday sent a clear and strong signal from authorities to stabilize the property market.

"Such efforts are expected to become an insurance pill for the property market after the Spring Festival holiday. Once market expectation is realized, confidence will further recover," Lu said.

Guo Xinyu, an analyst at China Index Academy, said: "In addition, a slew of fine-tuned home purchasing policies from different provinces and cities are expected to boost market activity after the holiday. It is possible that major cities will see a mild sales pickup in spring."

Since January, some Chinese cities have responded proactively to the authorities' call for supportive measures to the real estate market and have adjusted purchasing policies for commercial housing.

"The policy revisions in top-tier cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou may also inspire similar actions in first- and key second-tier cities," Guo added.

For instance, Guangzhou, Guangdong province, eased residential property purchase measures on Jan 27. The purchase restriction on residential property with an area of over 120 square meters in restricted zones has been removed.

Yan Yuejin, research director at the E-House Research Institute, a housing market consultancy, said: "The significance of easing purchase restrictions on large housing in Guangzhou is not limited to one city. Over the past two years, many residents in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area have wanted to buy houses in Guangzhou, which is expected to invigorate market transactions to a large extent."

Starting on Feb 7, the minimum ratio of down payment for first homes in Hainan province will be adjusted from 25 percent to 20 percent, which is expected to further stimulate sales of commercial housing in the province.

Data released by the Hainan Bureau of Statistics showed that the sales area of commercial housing in the province hit over 8.99 million square meters in 2023, a year-on-year increase of 39.7 percent.

Though the average sales price saw a slight decrease of 2.6 percent, total commercial housing sales increased 36 percent year-on-year to more than 149 billion yuan ($20.7 billion), data showed.

He Miannan, chief analyst for the real estate industry at Everbright Securities, said that as China's property market is experiencing major changes on the supply and demand sides, it has been a trend for first-tier cities to proactively increase local support for home purchases, and for second-tier cities to relax restrictions on commercial housing purchases.

"Policies to optimize the property market in major cities may help the property market to embrace a recovery, which will further promote the gradual stabilization of property market sales this year," He said.

However, Cao Xute, an analyst at Shanghai-based Shengang Securities, said that compared with the two major pickups in 2021 and 2023, there is still a lack of market confidence in the first quarter of this year.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Xian Jiangnan)


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