The crashing real estate market in China just might send the world’s second-largest economy into a chaotic downward spiral and effectively worsen the global economic slump.
Chinese development firms have lost roughly $90 billion over the past year, as reported by Bloomberg, as the prices of homes have drastically dropped for roughly the past year. A few dozen developers have started to officially default on all of their debts, and quite a few of them have just stopped all work on unfinished housing projects, which has led to extreme outrage from the public and even the sparking of protests as well over 80% of Chinese homebuyers set up their mortgages and start to pay them even before the house that they are buying has finished being built.
This particular arrangement, which was originally created as a source of easily obtainable capital in an inflated house market, has ended up leaving a massive number of consumers in China holding the bad for vast numbers of unfinished houses that just might never be worked on again. Multiple thousands of homebuyers are now outright refusing to pay for these mortgages on unfinished projects as part of a massive mortgage boycott that has affected over 100 cities and has directly affected a total of 320 development projects.
“It’s gotten to the point where no one is taking care of it. So we naturally also have to defend our own rights,” expressed one of the boycotters, who expressed a need to stay anonymous in order to avoid retribution, as reported by The LA Times. “If we the people are not happy, it’s difficult to have a stable society.” She explained to the outlet that quite a few homebuyers who called for actual answers have received threats or have been detained for their actions.
Well over half of the total household wealth in the Chinese economy is reportedly stuck inside this housing debacle, so the complete reversal of fortunes in the real estate market could end up sparking wide-reaching economic consequences.
“We are seeing it everywhere,” stated Michael Pettis, a well-known professor of finance from Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management. “You get these spreading waves, and the bigger the sector is, the more powerful those waves are. And in China, unfortunately, the property sector is huge.”
Beijing itself has reportedly claimed that whatever rescue efforts end up taking place are going to need to prioritize the protection of homeowners over the developers, all despite the fact that the vast majority of the response has been left to the local governments.
“The aim of the rescue measures is to save the property market and household confidence, but not the developers,” explained Gary Ng, a senior economist for Natixis SA. “As it is unlikely to see significant policy changes, the golden age of fast revenue growth and high leverage for property developers is probably over.”