BEIJING: Chinese developers in "survival mode" sharply cut property investment in July while new construction starts suffered their biggest fall in nearly a decade, suggesting the liquidity-challenged sector is not about to turn the corner anytime soon.
China's property market, accounting for about a quarter of the economy, has been trapped in a capital crisis since the summer of 2020, leading some cash-strapped developers to default on their debts and struggle to complete projects. Wary buyer sentiment has also chilled new investment by developers.
Property investment in July fell 12.3% year-on-year, the biggest decline in 2022, while new construction starts by floor area slumped 45.4%, the largest drop since January-February 2013, according to Reuters calculations based on data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Monday.
"Everyone except state-owned enterprises is in survival mode," said a senior official at a Shenzhen-based developer, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"We're all waiting for a recovery and trying to speed up sales and reduce costs and buy less land. But at the end of the day, sales depends on the end users."
Cash-strapped real estate firms have suffered from tight credit conditions since 2020 after regulators issued tough guidelines on new borrowing by developers, concerned about their spiralling debt.,
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For developers in July, loans granted by domestic banks dropped 36.8%, while capital raised from abroad plunged 200%, according to Reuters calculations from the NBS data.
Household loans, including mortgages, fell to 121.7 billion yuan ($18.00 billion) in July from 848.2 billion in June, the central bank said on Friday.
Reflecting the poor buyer sentiment, new home prices fell 0.9% on year in July, the fastest pace since September 2015, and extending a 0.5% decline in June, Reuters calculations based on NBS data showed.
As developers keep to a holding pattern, they are hoping regulators would ease their grip on the sector after a once-in-five-years congress of the ruling Communist Party in the autumn where President Xi Jinping is expected to secure a precedent-breaking third term as leader.
"The main supply-side policies have not yet been relaxed, which are likely to be eased after the 20th CPC national congress," said a developer, declining to be named.
In January-July, property investment fell 6.4% from a year earlier, the most since March 2020.
New construction starts tumbled 36.1%, extending from a 34.4% drop in the first half. - Reuters