China home price

Analysts split on outlook as new home sales in China drop

Investment growth on the mainland is likely to ease further amid mounting inventory

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 November, 2014, 5:40am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 April, 2015, 6:25pm

The value of new home sales on the mainland fell 5.5 per cent month on month in October after a 39.7 per cent jump in September, an analysis of official data released yesterday shows, contradicting private data that pointed to a recovery.

But the year-on-year decline eased to 3.1 per cent from September's fall of 10.3 per cent, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

Analysts are split on the outlook for the rest of the year and next year. Global ratings agency Moody's Investors Service, which on Wednesday maintained its negative outlook for the industry, projected a fall of up to 5 per cent in nationwide sales and a modest drop in prices next year.

The bureau said total property sales revenue, including non-residential sectors, fell 7.9 per cent year on year in the first 10 months of the year, easing from a drop of 8.9 per cent in the first three quarters.

"We believe sales recovery will get stronger in late 2014 and early 2015," said Edison Bian, head of China property research at UOB Kay Hian.

He was more optimistic than Moody's, forecasting flat sales for all of 2015 on rising new supply and cheaper mortgage loans.

Data from E-House (China) Holdings showed sales rose in all but four of the cities it surveyed last month compared with September.

More banks in key cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have started offering discounted mortgage rates after the central bank reaffirmed in September that banks could price loans up to 30 per cent below the benchmark rate, part of the measures to support the real estate market.

Centaline said home sales in 40 key cities it surveyed fell 29 per cent in the first week of this month from the previous seven days, as the market entered its traditional slack winter season, although the volume was still 14 per cent above the average weekly level for the year.

"Signs of recovery are clear," Centaline said, while adding that the momentum was not strong enough to push up prices.

The mainland had unsold property stock of 582.39 million sqmetres at the end of last month, up from 571.48 million at the end of September, the statistics bureau said.

The mounting inventory brought property investment growth down to 12.4 per cent year on year in the first 10 months from 12.5 per cent in the first three quarters. Many analysts believe the trend could last until the second half of next year.

Meanwhile, homebuilders are gearing up for more promotions to meet scaled-back full-year sales targets.

"Developers are turning optimistic and will offer special discounts … towards the end of this year [to attract more clients] in the hope of better returns next year," consultancy Shanghai Deovolente Realty said.

Mainland developers' profit margins have been compressed in the past few years as land prices and labour costs soared despite a cooling housing market.

Moody's said inventory levels would remain high and liquidity tight for the industry, while companies such as Evergrande Real Estate Group and Guangzhou R&F Properties would see negative ratings pressure if they failed to lower debt ratios or improve sales in the next 12 months.