In China, Home Buyers Who Went All In Say They Want Out

China is trying to cool its costly and dangerously debt-ridden housing market, where high prices and go-go levels of borrowing and spending are increasingly seen as a national threat. But as the troubles of a major property developer and its $300 billion mountain of debt drive a government effort to contain the peril, Beijing risks hurting a major driver of its crucial economic growth engine: home buyers like He Qiang, the New York Times reported. He was so optimistic about property in China that he bought an apartment from that property developer, China Evergrande Group, then became a real estate agent himself, selling the company’s apartments to hundreds of other families. “It was the peak of Evergrande’s glory,” He said. He is much more pessimistic these days. He, who is from the southern city of Yueyang, has yet to move into his apartment because Evergrande has stopped construction. So many other people are nervous about buying homes, he said, that he’s considering going back to selling cars. The real estate boom that once attracted young professionals like Mr. He is experiencing a dramatic overhaul. At one point, buying was so frenzied that properties would sell out within minutes of being offered. Speculation sent prices soaring. Real estate grew to provide more than a quarter of the country’s economic growth by some estimates, with homes becoming the main savings vehicle for Chinese families. Nearly three-quarters of household wealth in China is now tied to property. The loss of confidence in the market could spill over to lower sales of cars and appliances, further hurting the economy. Already, weak retail sales in China have signaled that consumers are feeling increasingly insecure. As more buyers shy away from home sales, experts say Beijing’s decision to intervene in the market and curb debt may risk overall growth. Read more.
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