China's Housing Market Continues to Cool in 2015, Ghost Cities to Endure

China's Housing Market Continues to Cool in 2015, Ghost Cities to Endure

Residential News » Beijing Edition | By Michael Gerrity | February 19, 2015 8:30 AM ET

While Chinese investors continue to pour billions of dollars into U.S. real estate assets that appreciate in value each month, things back home in China are a little different.

China new home prices posted their fifth month of annual drops in January 2015, as weak demand weighed on consumer sentiment despite moves by the Chinese government to encourage buying.

See related story: California Enjoying Foreign Buyer Activity from China, Canada and Mexico

According to data from China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), new home prices fell in 69 of 70 cities by an average of 5.1 percent from the year-ago period.

This China housing price dip beats the 4.3 percent decline in December 2014, which was the largest drop since the current data series began in 2011.

Both Beijing and Shanghai registered price declines of 3.2 percent and 4.2 percent, respectively in January 2015, compared with the 2.7 percent and 3.7 percent respective declines seen in December 2014.

The People's Bank of China slashed the reserve requirements of major banks - or the minimum amount of cash banks need to hold back from lending - last month. The move follows the central bank's surprise interest rate cut in November.

After robust growth in recent years, China's property prices have been cooling amid a glut of supply and as economic growth moderated.

The housing sector contributes to about 15 percent of China's economy. The world's second-biggest economy slowed to 7.4 percent in 2014, the slowest rate in 24 years.

Local real estate consultants are saying they have already seen a steady drop in China housing prices across the board.

The problem China has now is large developer inventories. Chinese developers have two to five years of inventory still to sell off. Until that has been absorbed, home prices in China will not be increasing any time soon, and China's famous 'Ghost Cities' will continue to endure.

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