By Laura He at MarketWatch
Amid ongoing central government curbs, China’s property market is cooling off dramatically despite the onset of the sector’s traditionally “hot season,” as both land sales and transaction values plunged in May across 300 major Chinese cities.
Total land sales fell to 1,767 transactions in May in 300 Chinese cities, down 45% from a year ago and 19% lower than in the previous month, according to a survey published Friday on China’s leading real estate website Soufun.com.
In the same month, the total transaction value for land sales dropped 38% year-on-year, marking a 30% drop from April, to 13.75 billion yuan ($2.2 billion).
“May is traditionally the hot season, but China’s property market has cooled further, “ Soufun said, adding that property developers remain in “wait-and-see” mode.
Several Chinese cities even recorded no land sales at all. Hangzhou, the affluent capital of the eastern province of Zhejiang, has offered no land for sale in its main city zone to residential developers since March, possibly under pressure from the central government to reduce real-estate inventories, according to Soufun.
Jinan, the capital of the eastern province of Shandong, also saw no land sales during May, as developers turn cautious amid tougher market conditions, according to a report by Jinan-based Life Daily, a local-government-run newspaper.
Overall property prices in China could push lower this year, as developers with large real-estate inventory are under great pressure to generate cash flow and meet ambitious sales targets, Standard & Poor’s said in a report published on Monday.
In particular, sales and financing prospects are likely to be “gloomy” for smaller Chinese developers, especially the unrated ones, some of which may default or be acquired by others, the rating agency warned.
“We believe most developers that we rate have the ability and resources to weather the tough market conditions. But many small unrated developers will feel the heat the most because their sales and financing capacities are substantially weaker than their larger peers’,” Bei Fu, credit analyst for S&P, said. “Some lower-tier cities with limited demand and abundant supply could see deeper downward price adjustments.”