China’s property market is in a ‘bubble’, warns magnate
One of China’s largest property magnates, Wang Jianlin, warned this week that his country’s property market was the “biggest bubble in history“. But home buyers in key Chinese cities in September showed scant regard for such warnings, maintaining a frenetic pace of purchases. 中国数一数二的房地产大亨王健林本周警告称，中国房地产市场泡沫是“历史上最大的泡沫“。但直到9月，中国主要城市的购房者仍然不怎么把此类警告当回事，继续狂热地购房。
Preliminary data for the month show that residential floor space sold in 52 cities rose 26 per cent in the first 25 days of September, in line with August’s 27 per cent increase and higher than July’s 13 percent expansion, according to data collected from local land bureaus by NSBO, a China-focused investment bank.
The FT Confidential Research China Real Estate index — a leading indicator based on surveys of property sales offices in 40 cities — rose to its second highest reading this year after a record spike in March and showed that sales, inquiries and prices all rose sharply in September.
英国《金融时报》旗下研究部门“投资参考“(FT Confidential Research)的“中国房地产指数“是在对40个城市的房地产销售机构进行调查的基础上编制的领先指标。该指数升至今年第二高位，此前它在今年3月升至创纪录高点。该指数表明，9月销量、问询量和价格全都大幅增长。
Official data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on national real estate sales during September are not announced until early October, but the smaller data series from 52 cities and the FT Confidential Research surveys have shown a strong correlation with the national numbers.
So crucial is real estate to China’s growth cycle that September’s numbers define the outlook for the world’s second-largest economy. 鉴于房地产对中国增长周期至关重要，9月房地产数据决定了这个全球第二大经济体的前景。
“Housing acts as something of an economic fulcrum that exerts an outsized influence over China’s banks, heavy industries, builders and households,“ wrote Eric Lascelles, chief economist at RBC Global Asset Management on beyondbrics, the FT’s emerging markets forum.
“We figure it is directly or indirectly responsible for a whopping 19 per cent of China’s economic output,“ Mr Lascelles added. 加拿大皇家银行环球资产管理(RBC Global Asset Management)首席经济学家埃里克.拉塞尔斯(Eric Lascelles)在英国《金融时报》新兴市场论坛beyondbrics栏目上写道：“楼市充当着经济支柱，对中国的银行、重工业、建筑商及家庭有着过大的影响。“拉塞尔斯补充称：“我们认为，楼市对中国经济产出的直接和间接贡献高达19%。“
According to RBC estimates, so key is real estate to China’s overall fortunes that a 10 per cent drop in housing activity and home prices would subtract as much as 5 percentage points from China’s headline GDP, making the difference between growth and contraction.
Data collected from the land bureaus in 52 cities showed a divergence between city tiers. In China’s four first-tier cities — Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen — home sales actually fell 9 per cent in September year on year, down from a 15 per cent growth rate posted in August.
Second-tier cities, which are defined as provincial capitals and municipalities such as Chongqing, recorded a 29 per cent growth in sales, the same as in August.
Third-tier cities, which group important centres below the provincial capital level, saw a 31 per cent surge in sales, up from 23 per cent in August. Overall, measured by square metres sold, activity remained in an upswing across the three city tiers (see second chart). 涵盖省会以下重要中心城市的三线城市销量飙升31%，高于8月23%的增幅。整体而言，按平米销量计算，这三类城市的建筑活动都保持活跃（见第二张图）。
But in spite of the fizz, the longer-term outlook for the residential property market is growing more complicated. Not only is Mr Wang — whose company, Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties, is China’s largest commercial property developer — raising the alarm, local governments are increasingly trying to damp down activity.
然而，尽管楼市一派火热，中国住房市场的较长期前景正变得越来越复杂。不单王健林发出了警告，地方政府也在采取越来越多的抑制房市措施。王健林旗下的大连万达商业地产(Dalian Wanda Commercial Properties)是中国最大的商业地产开发商。
In an interview with CNN Money, Mr Wang said that while property prices keep rising in large cities such as Shanghai, they are falling in some smaller cities where huge numbers of properties lie empty.王健林在接受美国有线电视新闻网财经频道(CNN Money)采访时表示，尽管上海等大城市的房价持续上涨，但在一些有大量空置楼盘的较小城市，房价却在下跌。
“I don’t see a good solution to this problem,“ Mr Wang was quoted as saying. “The government has come up with all sorts of measures — limiting purchase or credit — but none have worked.“
Part of the issue concerns rising levels of leverage within the sector, raising the risk of knock-on effects through the financial system from any slump in real estate sales and prices. Capital Economics estimates that Rmb24tn ($3.6tn) in direct loans are outstanding to the sector.
“The problem is the economy hasn’t bottomed out,“ Mr Wang was quoted as saying. “If we remove leverage too fast, the economy may suffer further. So we’ll have to wait until the economy is back on the track of rebounding — that’s when we gradually reduce leverage and debts.“
He added, though, that he is not predicting a “hard landing“ for China’s economy, CNN said. 不过CNN报道称，王健林说他并不认为中国经济会“硬着陆“。
Still, intimations of concern are rippling across China. Nanjing became the first second-tier city to reinstate strict home purchase restrictions this month, limiting local resident permit holders to owning no more than two properties in the core city and non-locals to no more than one.
Hangzhou, Suzhou and Xiamen have also reimposed partial home purchase restrictions, while some other cities are taking measures to boost the supply of housing, thereby attempting to stabilise prices.