China homes not hit in cash crunch

The impact of squeeze on housing market will be minimal, say observers, as demand remains strong though growth in value slows

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 June, 2013, 5:00am

The recent cash crunch on the mainland may have caused some banks to slash discounts on home mortgage rates, but market watchers believe the impact on the nation's property market will be minimal.

Alan Chiang Sheung-lai, the head of residential property at DTZ Greater China, said: "We haven't seen homebuyers, particularly end-users, having problems in applying for mortgages.

"This is because some developers are co-operating with banks in offering mortgage loans to buyers, although [the latest crisis] will make developers wait longer than just two to three months to get the money from banks."

Chiang said the cash crunch had not affected large mainland banks and there was still enough money in the market for flat buyers to borrow, while demand for homes in the country remained strong.

"Therefore, I haven't seen any impact on the property market due to the liquidity problem yet," he said.

Regulators have been seeking to choke off funds flowing to speculative activities and the informal lending sector, moves which recently sent rates soaring to crisis-like levels.

These moves by regulators have come as lenders have been increasingly resorting to interbank borrowing and short-term deposits for financing long-term loans and investments in trusts.

Mainland media reported that some banks in Beijing had already cut discounts on home mortgage rates, and were approving mortgage loan applications more selectively.

However, Eric Wong Chun-yu, chairman of the property investor Bricks & Mortar Management, said the government imposed stringent controls on mortgage loans even before the cash crunch. He said there was not much room for further tightening.

"The crisis involves mainly borrowings between banks, and therefore I don't think there will be much impact on the property market in the short term," Wong said.

He said unless the situation worsened, with some banks failing, the property market would not collapse.

The growth in the mainland's property market continued last month, but the galloping year-on-year momentum in sales value had slowed down to 34 per cent in May from 57 per cent in April, Moody's Investors Service said.

Moody's said the slowdown in sales value growth was due to the State Council's policy guidelines, announced in February, which sought to increase controls on the sector, as well as a higher comparative base in May last year when the market picked up.