Through-the-roof housing prices (房价) is one of China’s hottest topics.
Recently, Ren Zhiqiang (任志强) a property developer (开放商) who is big user of Sina microblog (新浪微博), angered a lot of people by blogging “Is there any country in history that has managed to grow its economy stably after a property bust?”
As many property owners are in negative equity and some are protesting to property companies, the price for housing is still set to fall over the next few months. Some say is could continue for a few years.
On December 2, Caijing (财经), the influential financial magazine, microblogged the phenomenon:
December 3, 2011, in Wuhan, Hubei province, Vanke’s latest development begin its selling phase. The developer asked Guiyuan Buddhist Temple’s head monk to use special prayers to increase purchasing, attracting more citizens to come see the property. Except more people are praying that housing prices will fall.
Throughout the last few months, weibo has been alive with people commenting on falling prices. Xie Xiao (谢晓), the managing editor of Southern Entertainment Weekly, microblogged:
Housing prices have really fallen? I walked past an agent for real estate downstairs from my house, and saw that second hand housing is only a little over RMB20,000 per square meter, compared to its price at almost RMB30,000 six months ago, I felt like calling all my friends over to start purchasing!
Similarly, Shi Yonggang (师永刚) the editor-in-chief of Phoenix Weekly, microblogged:
My friend texted me to say that the real estate market in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, has completely collapsed, and prices have fallen across the scale. From the average price of RMB10,000 it has fallen to RMB3,000. So… pricing falling is akin to a mountain falling?
In order to explain this, a city planner, Liu Wei, said:
Local housing prices are not high because of the local governments. Never mind the housing prices, but local governments can’t even control their land prices. According to the current system, the land prices, especially the prices for real estate land, is decided by the market. If any local government dared to interfere with property prices, they will be punished severely. People who think that local governments are colluding with real estate developers, pushing the prices higher, are just the fantasy of intellectuals and the public
As far back as June, when there were whispers that housing prices could fall, Southern Weekend (南方周末), the leading liberal magazine in the country, ran a snippet on their official microblog about how the banks won’t be able to handle a 50% fall in prices:
China Banking Regulatory Commission: “‘The banks will be able to handle it if housing prices fall 50%’ rebuffed by insiders in the banking industry, who said: “Don’t mention 50%, even if it drops to 20%, the banks won’t be able to handle it.”
A lot of people, some of them high profile, like to joke about housing prices in the context of social problems, such as mistresses. Jishisan, a science journalist, said:
Will the prices for Houxiandai City [a property development in Beijing] rise because of Guo Meimei (郭美美), who lives there? Or will the rent prices fall because of number of mistresses who will stop renting?
Perhaps Chen Huarui, the CEO of an investment company summed it up best:
Continued falling over three years isn’t realistic, but a 30% fall in prices is.