China property

Tightening measures having little effect on surging property prices

According to analysts, all they seem to be doing is driving more panic buyers into the market

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 September, 2016, 5:53pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 September, 2016, 8:06pm

The latest buying restrictions introduced in a few second-tier Chinese cities is unlikely to dent a surging property market flush with cheap credit and panic buyers, according to analysts, with turnover remaining high this month and next.

Market tightening measures have been rolled out in Xiamen and Wuhan in the past week, following similar in Suzhou and Nanjing in mid-August.

And now Hefei is rumoured to be set for a fresh round after earlier measures failed to curb runaway prices there.

Strong speculation that restrictions were expected in Shanghai generated panic buying there, and Bloomberg has reported that the authorities in Beijing and Tianjin are contemplating new measures to rein in prices.

All this seems to point to a shift in policy direction, but a closer look at the plans suggest much milder adjustment.

Of the measures planned in second-tier cities, for example, only Xiamen and Suzhou have restricted non-local hukou (household registration) holders, while during the previous round of national tightening in 2011, they all did.

In Xiamen, local families can still buy up to two homes while being barred from buying homes larger than 144 square meters.

In 2011 purchase restrictions were applicable on all homes, no matter the size.

One of the myths surrounding policy tightening is that if one city makes a move, that means it will be expanded nationally
JPMorgan equity research note

“One of the myths surrounding policy tightening is that if one city makes a move, that means it will be expanded nationally.

“Many investors also think policy tightening will mean shrinking volumes and a negative effect on housing stocks,” said a JPMorgan equity research note.

“All that might have happened in the past, but not now.”

The investment bank reckons the latest market rebound is much stronger and more sustainable than in 2011, and is actually being more driven by a shortage of land. They also think the credit loosening is more substantial, and policy tightening less strict.

Zhang Dawei, chief analyst with Centaline Property, agrees with that conclusion, adding the impact of the restrictions in Wuhan and Xiamen were “limited” and unlikely to exert any lasting effect on an overall easy-credit environment.

The pending restrictions in Shanghai, meanwhile, have already swamped the market with panic buyers, pushing up trading volumes and prices, which is contrary to what policymakers had hoped.

Last month a record 22,548 new homes were sold in the city, according to municipal property trading centre. Daily turnover surged to 1,000 units in the last week of August, when restriction expectation heightened. As a result, average transaction prices jumped by 5,384 yuan from July to 42,384 yuan per square metre.

In the cities that have introduced new tightening measures, there has been no sign of moderation in home price growth.

Prices in Nanjing jumped 3.41 per cent in August from July, while in Fuzhou they jumped 3.45 per cent, according to market researcher China Index Academy.

China’s busiest sales months have long been known as “golden September and silver October”, when developers put more new apartments on the market, as eager buyers move in to complete deals before any new restrictions are implemented.

Yan Yuejin, an analyst at Shanghai-based E-house China R&D Institute, expects the market recovery to continue this month and next, especially in those cities that expect upcoming tightening measures: Changsha, Wuxi, Shijiazhuang and Guangzhou.

He added the Shanghai authorities might now delay any tightening plans until the fourth quarter, or postpone them indefinitely, after previous “speculation” led to drastic market responses, which largely discouraged officials from acting.

Any housing policy measures have also been put on hold, he said, during the sensitive G20 summit just held in Hangzhou.