DESPERATE CHINESE PROPERTY DEVELOPERS RESORT TO BIZARRE MARKETING TACTICS | Kanebridge News
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DESPERATE CHINESE PROPERTY DEVELOPERS RESORT TO BIZARRE MARKETING TACTICS

The country’s real-estate slump is getting worse—and looks set to drag on for years

By REBECCA FENG
Wed, Jan 24, 2024 12:23pmGrey Clock 3 min

China’s real-estate crisis has dragged down the economy, caused massive layoffs and pushed multibillion-dollar companies to the point of collapse.

Economists think it is about to get worse.

Sales of newly built homes in China fell 6% last year, returning to a level not seen since 2016, according to China’s statistics bureau. Secondhand home prices in its four wealthiest cities—Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen—declined by between 11% and 14% in December from the year before, according to the broker Centaline Property.

Developers are starting fewer projects. Homeowners are paying back their mortgages early and borrowing less. Once-thriving property companies are stuck in protracted negotiations with foreign investors, following defaults on about $125 billion of overseas bonds between 2020 and late 2023, according to figures from S&P Global Ratings.

Chinese developers and local governments are so desperate to attract home buyers that some have resorted to bizarre marketing strategies.

A property company in Tianjin ran a video advertisement featuring the slogan “buy a house, get a wife for free.” It was a play on words, using the same Chinese characters as the phrase “buy a house, and give it to your wife”—but presented in a sentence structure typically used to offer freebies for home buyers. In September, the company was fined $4,184 for the ad.

A residential compound in eastern China’s Zhejiang province promised last year to give home buyers a 10-gram gold bar.

Earlier this month, Sheng Songcheng, former head of the statistics department at the People’s Bank of China, told a local conference that the housing downturn would last another two years. He thinks new-home sales will fall more than 5% in both 2024 and 2025.

Wall Street economists are also ringing alarm bells about how long the real-estate slump will last.

“Not too many people are buying, can buy or want to buy,” said Raymond Yeung, chief China economist at ANZ. He said there had been a fundamental shift in the way Chinese people view the property sector, with housing no longer seen as a safe investment.

China’s real-estate sector and related industries once accounted for around a quarter of gross domestic product and the sector’s slump has been a significant drag on the world’s second-largest economy. That has increased calls for Beijing to do more to prop up the sector, but so far Chinese officials have stuck to piecemeal policies rather than introducing a landmark stimulus package.

A number of economists are making comparisons to Japan, which spent decades trying to rebound from a crash in real-estate and stock prices. China’s stock market is in a years-long slump.

China’s central bank can help make the situation less painful, but it will need to be aggressive, said Li-gang Liu, head of Asia Pacific economic analysis at Citi Global Wealth Investments. The central bank still has policy room and could take one big step to make a significant impact, he said.

Liu Yuan, head of property research at Centaline, said that without the government’s help, new-home prices will need to drop by another 50% from current levels before they reach a bottom. This is based on the assumption that the tipping point will only come when it is cheaper to buy than to rent houses, Liu said.

China’s real-estate downturn has claimed dozens of victims. More than 50 developers—mostly privately owned—have defaulted on their debt. Developers still have millions of unfinished homes that were sold but not delivered. Chinese authorities have set aside billions of dollars to help builders complete apartments but the logjam is growing.

The crisis has drained the coffers of some Chinese local governments, which previously relied on land sales as a main source of income. Economists estimate they have hidden debt worth anything from $400 billion to more than $800 billion. To quiet talk of potential defaults, the central government has set up debt-swap programs to help some of them refinance.

Some economists are optimistic. In the first half of this year, buyers of secondhand homes will gradually return to the new-home market and prop up the sector, said Helen Qiao, chief China economist at Bank of America. “Things will slowly get better from here,” Qiao said.

But most are still expecting more pain, and investors are bearish. A benchmark of Hong Kong-listed property stocks had fallen for four years in a row before the start of this year. Since Jan. 1, it is down another 15%.



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UAE Residential Market Review Shows Strong Growth and Record Transactions in Q1 2024

The total transaction volume in Abu Dhabi for the first quarter of the year reached 2,795.

Thu, May 16, 2024 4 min

The CBRE Middle East, a global leader in commercial real estate services and investments, released its latest edition of the UAE Residential Market Review for the first quarter of 2024.

Abu Dhabi Market Overview

During the first quarter of the year, the total volume of transactions in Abu Dhabi stood at 2,795, registering a 22.6% increase compared to the year prior. This increase has been underpinned by an 18.1% rise in off-plan sales and a 34.5% rise in secondary market sales. In the year to Q1 2024, Abu Dhabi’s average apartment and villa prices increased by 4.3% and 2.3%, respectively.

Abu Dhabi’s rental market witnessed a total of 46,130 residential rental contracts in Q1 2024, registering a decline of 10.9% from the year prior. This has been due to a 15.5% decline in the number of renewed rental contracts registered and a 2.4% drop in new rental registrations over the same period. In the year to Q1 2024, average apartment and villa rents have increased by 4.5% and 1.1%, respectively. On the supply front, only 80 units have been delivered in Abu Dhabi in the first three months of the year, with all of this new stock being in Al Raha Beach. An additional 8,660 units are expected to be completed by year-end with 55.8% of this scheduled stock located in Yas Island, Al Sowwah, and Al Shamkha.

Dubai Market Insights

In Dubai, price growth has continued to accelerate during the first quarter of 2024, with average prices increasing by 20.7% in the year to March 2024. Throughout this period, average apartment and villa prices increased by 20.4% and 22.1%, respectively. Although headline average sales rates are still marginally below the 2014 highs by 0.1%, several prominent residential neighbourhoods have already surpassed their 2014 figures.

As of March 2024, average apartment prices stood at AED 1,486 per square foot, and average villa prices reached AED 1,776 per square foot. Average villa sales rates are currently above their 2014 baseline by 22.9%. Rental growth has also gained momentum in 2024, after a period of moderation in 2023. In March 2024, average residential rents registered a year-on-year increase of 21.2%, up from the 20.4% growth registered a month earlier. Over this period, average apartment and villa rental rates grew by 22.1% and 14.5%, respectively. Data from the Dubai Land Department revealed that, in the year to date to March 2024, the total number of rental registrations stood at 159,941, marking an increase of 5.8% from the previous year. As for supply, a total of 6,526 units were delivered in the first quarter of the year, with 59.7% of this supply being located in Meydan One, Jumeirah Village Circle, and Al Furjan. A further 46,086 are expected to be handed over the remainder of the year. However, given historic materialisation rates, the report expects that a limited portion of this upcoming stock will come online as planned.

Record-Breaking Transactions

March 2024 witnessed another record in Dubai’s residential market, with transaction volumes reaching the highest monthly figure on record, marking a year-on-year growth of 13.2%. Throughout this period, off-plan sales and secondary market sales increased by 20.2%, and secondary market sales increased by 2.2%.

In the first quarter of 2024, Dubai’s total transaction volumes reached 35,310. This is the highest total ever recorded in the first quarter of the year, marking an increase of 20.5% from the year prior. Over this period, off-plan transactions recorded an increase of 23.9%, and secondary market transactions rose by 15.2%.

However, in Q1 2024, the total number of sales transactions within the prime market segment registered a decline of 2.1% compared to the year prior. Throughout this period, super-prime transactions recorded a drop of 16.5% year-on-year to stand at a total of 227. These declines witnessed in both markets have been largely underpinned by significant declines in off-plan sales largely attributable to the high levels of demand for off-plan properties and the limited level of upcoming supply. In terms of performance, in the first quarter of 2024, average prime prices registered a year-on-year increase of 16.0%, standing at an average of AED 4,661 per square foot, and average super-prime prices grew by 14.8% over this period, reaching AED 4,978 per square foot.

Taimur Khan, CBRE’s Head of Research MENA in Dubai

Future Projections 

Looking ahead, CBRE expects Dubai’s residential sales market to maintain its upward trajectory. Prices in both the apartment and villa segments of the market will continue to grow, however, not at the same pace. On the rental front, we forecast that residential rents will continue to increase. That being said, the rate of growth will likely moderate.

Taimur Khan, CBRE’s Head of Research MENA in Dubai, comments: “The UAE’s residential market started the year on a relatively strong note, where the elevated demand levels continue to drive performance. The strong levels of activity and high absorption levels, which have reduced available supply, will continue to support price growth in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai over the remainder of the year. In terms of rental growth, we expect that rental rates in Abu Dhabi will continue to rise, with prime areas set to outperform the market. In Dubai, residential rents will continue to increase; however, not at the same rate that we have been seeing to date, and we expect that the rate of change will diminish in the second half of the year.”

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