Monday, 25 February 2013

Property bubble bursts on Chinese island

Stories like this from AFP/CNA make it hard to believe that there hasn't been a property bubble in China.

It was billed as China's Dubai: a cluster of sail-shaped skyscrapers on a man-made island surrounded by tropical sea, the epitome of an unprecedented property boom that transformed skylines across the country.

But prices on Phoenix Island, off the palm-tree lined streets of the resort city of Sanya, have plummeted in recent months, exposing the hidden fragilities of China's growing but sometimes unbalanced economy...

Now apartments on Phoenix Island which reached the dizzying heights of 150,000 yuan per square metre (US$2,200 per square foot) in 2010 are on offer for just 70,000 yuan, said Sun Zhe, a local estate agent.

Elsewhere in China, though, a report last week showed that home prices may already be recovering, suggesting that policies to curb property prices may be maintained or even tightened.

Meanwhile, the latest cooling measure in Hong Kong appears to have had an effect. From Bloomberg:

Residential property sales in Hong Kong fell after sales tax was doubled on property costing more than HK$2 million ($258,000), according to Midland Holdings Ltd., the city’s biggest publicly traded realtor.

Secondary sales for the 15 most popular housing estates fell 15 percent this weekend from the previous weekend, according to Buggle Lau, Midland’s chief analyst.

Hong Kong’s government raised stamp duty from Feb. 23 to 8.5 percent of the purchase price for all properties above the HK$2 million threshold. It was the third set of property curbs to cool the city’s real estate market since Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying took office in July. Home prices have doubled in the past four years on near-record low mortgage rates, an influx of mainland Chinese buyers and a lack of new supply.

Over in Singapore, though, there may have been one last hurrah for the property market. Again from Bloomberg:

Singapore home sales rose 43 percent in January from the previous month as buyers rushed to purchase homes right after the government announced cooling measures to ease residential prices...

Singapore home prices reached a record high in the fourth quarter amid low interest rates, raising concerns of a housing bubble and prompting the government to introduce its seventh round of cooling measures on Jan. 11.

Singapore has been attempting to rein in prices since 2009...

The relentless tide of liquidity from central banks around the world means that the fight against property price inflation by regulators, especially those in Asia, have mostly been a losing one so far. Note in particular the Singapore authorities' long fight to cool property prices.

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