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'Slowing growth ahead' for property prices

Updated: 2013-12-07 00:52
By Hu Yuanyuan in Shenzhen ( China Daily)

Property price growth is set to decelerate, with the slowdown to persist for several years, industry experts said on Friday.

"China's housing prices are now approaching a peak, just as what happened to the United States in 2005," said Nie Meisheng, former head of the China Real Estate Chamber of Commerce.

She made the comment at the Ping An Real Estate and Financial Innovation forum in Shenzhen.

Average housing prices in 100 major cities monitored by the China Index Academy rose 0.68 percent month-on-month to 10,758 yuan ($1,707) per square meter in November, the 18th consecutive increase since June 2012.

The growth rate, however, was at the lowest level this year, the academy said.

"It doesn't make sense that home prices will continue to go up while overall economic growth is slowing down," said Nie.

China's GDP will probably expand 7.7 percent this year, according to Robin Bew, managing director of the Economist Intelligence Unit, a London-based think tank.

However, he's forecasting that GDP growth is likely to slow to 5 percent over the next decade, even if the country successfully carries out its reforms.

"Bubbles do exist in some cities, especially in some second-tier cities with too much supply, but the overall market hasn't seen a big bubble yet," said Nie.

According to Qin Hong, director of the policy research center at the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, the record high property sales of 2013 are unsustainable.

Qin said that those sales have been fueled by China's baby boom generation, born in the 1980s.

"Property sales will slow to a single-digit growth rate in the future," said Qin.

For Louis Bai, chief executive officer of the Beijing office of Barratt Homes, a large United Kingdom property company, Chinese developers need a new strategy to cope with market uncertainties.

Domestic developers' overseas investment is also on track to set a record high in 2013 of more than 25 billion yuan, according to Nie.

However, Frank Chen, executive director of real estate consultancy CBRE Research China, warned: "As real estate is a very local industry, the risks for Chinese developers' overseas expansion should not be underestimated."

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