【英语中国】有关中国楼市供应过剩的常见问题解答 Too Much of a Good Thing: A China Property Glut FAQ

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2014-4-15 13:48

小艾摘要: China's smaller cities are now the scene of a housing glut, which could undermine China's growth. What are the possible consequences? How are developers reacting? Is the government doing anything abou ...
Too Much of a Good Thing: A China Property Glut FAQ
China's smaller cities are now the scene of a housing glut, which could undermine China's growth. What are the possible consequences? How are developers reacting? Is the government doing anything about it?

Below WSJ reporters Esther Fung and Bob Davis answer those and other questions.

Why are the recent price cuts so bad? Isn't this just the market at work--less demand, ergo lower prices?

The same could have been said for the U.S. in 2007. Falling prices in Las Vegas, Bakersfield, Miami were just the market at work. The problem is that if prices fall too far, they don't invite more people to invest in property. Just the opposite. Would-be buyers keep their wallets closed, fearing that the value of a home will go down in value.

That's particularly a problem in China, where people have thought for 20 years that real estate prices can only go up in value. If that psychology switches, it's a huge problem.

There was concern that the property bubble had burst in 2011. What's different now?

In 2011, the big worry was escalating prices in China's major cities putting apartments out of the reach of all but the rich. The central government implemented property curbs, such as limits on multiple home purchases, to rein in speculation and frothy prices. After two tough years for developers, prices started heading up again smartly last year.

What makes the current problem different is that a) the problem is more widespread, hitting lots of small and medium-sized cities, b) the issue is a glut rather than rising prices, and c) China's finances are tied ever more tightly to real estate.

Since 2008, debt in China has grown at a pace similar to the U.S, Europe, Japan and South Korea before they fell into deep recessions. One big reason for the run-up in debt is lending to real estate developers. If developers can't afford to make payments on their loans because they can't sell enough apartments, China has a big problem.

Speaking of which, how are developers paying their bills?

Many construction companies are getting paid in apartments as developers become more and more cash-strapped, according to Zhou Liping, a property consultant at Jiangsu Lianmeng Property Consultancy. 'It's quite common, ' he said, adding that some of these construction companies then use the apartments as collateral when they take on bank loans.

Are there signs of construction workers losing their jobs?

Certainly it's a danger. Unfortunately, unemployment data is unreliable in China and it isn't counted by occupation. So far, there is no sign of widespread job loss. There are still more jobs than workers seeking jobs, largely as a result of demographic changes that are reducing the size of the Chinese workforce.

What are some signs that the growing glut is having economic ripples?

Copper prices have been falling since 2010, with analysts blaming slack demand in China as one reason. Copper is used in roofs, gutters and building expansion joints. Meanwhile, ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steelmaker, has forecast slower growth in Chinese steel demand this year due to more muted construction demand growth.

Retail sales growth has also slowed recently, due in part to falling growth in sales of appliance s and furniture, both linked tightly to apartment purchases.

What is the government doing about it?

The central government has indicated that it would allow local governments to adopt their own market regulations rather than implement a one-size-fits-all policy.

In some areas, local governments are trying help out. In Fenghua, government officials are trying to stave off a default by a local developer. In Changzhou, the government has been trying to keep discounts to a minimum to prop up the housing market. In Yingkou, the government has reduced fees and taxes for new purchases and made it easy for new buyers to get the residence permits necessary to obtain social welfare benefits, including public education for their children. So far, these measures have had only a limited impact on boosting sales.

Does this mean developers will finally start to cut back on their headlong, hell-for-leather building?

Some of China's largest developers are now trying to focus again on China's biggest cities, where demand is stronger. But why do developers keep building in problem cities despite obvious lack of demand? Why did U.S. developers do the same thing? Developers are optimists and salesmen by nature. Each thinks that its project will thrive even as others don't.

According to Nomura, profits for a group of 142 listed property developers in China rose 581% between 2006 and 2012 and never fell during any of those years. Other non-financial companies saw profits rise 64% during that same period and profits sometimes fell year-to-year for that group.

'China's real estate developers are behaving like internet start-ups,' says Mark Williams, a China economist at the Capital Economics in London. 'They're focusing on grabbing market share in a growing market, but the smaller and medium-sized cities they are in aren't growing rapidly.'

Tim Franco for The Wall Street Journal
目前,中国的中小型城市出现了住宅供应过剩的情况,这可能会损害中国的经济增长。那么这种情况可能会带来什么后果呢?开发商作何反应?中国政府又有何举措?

以下是《华尔街日报》(The Wall Street Journal)记者方心恩(Esther Fung)和戴维斯(Bob Davis)对相关问题的回答。

为何近期的降价潮有严重的负面作用?这难道不是需求减少导致房价下跌这种市场机制起作用的结果吗?

美国2007年的房地产市场情况或许可以这么说。当时拉斯维加斯、贝克尔斯菲市以及迈阿密的房价下跌都是市场机制起作用的结果。问题是,如果房价跌幅太大,就无法吸引更多人来投资,只会产生相反的作用。潜在购房者将会捂紧钱包,因为担心房价会进一步下跌。

这在中国尤其是个问题。在中国,人们最近20年来一直认为房价只会上涨。如果这种心态发生转变,将出现很大的问题。

曾有人担心中国房地产泡沫已在2011年破裂。现在的情况有何不同?

2011年,最大的担忧是中国主要城市节节攀升的房价已超出除富人以外群体的购买能力。为此,中国中央政府实施了多套住房限购等房地产调控举措,以遏制房地产投机和高房价。而经过对开发商而言较为艰难的两年之后,去年房价又开始大幅上涨。

当前情况有所不同,主要体现在三个方面:a)现在的房地产泡沫问题更加广泛,已波及很多中小型城市;b)现在的问题是供应过剩,而不是房价上涨;c)中国财政与房地产之间的关系比以往任何时候都更为紧密。

自2008年以来,中国的债务增速和美国、欧洲、日本和韩国陷入严重衰退前的速度不相上下。债务增加的一个原因是对房地产开发商的贷款增加。如果开发商因为无法销售足够多的房子而还不起贷款,中国就会出大问题。

说到这一问题,房地产企业目前的应付帐务支付情况如何呢?

据Jiangsu Lianmeng Property Consultancy的地产顾问周丽萍(音)表示,由于开发商的资金日趋紧张,它们将房子冲抵建筑工程款支付给很多建筑公司,这种情况很普遍。周丽萍还称,有些建筑公司再将房子作为抵押品向银行贷款。

是否有建筑工人失业的迹象?

肯定存在这种可能性。不幸的是,在中国失业率数据并不可靠,而且不是以行业来划分的。目前为止,中国并未出现大量失业的迹象,招聘岗位的数量甚至还大于求职者人数,这主要是因为人口结构改变导致中国劳动力人数减少所致。

哪些迹象表明住房供应过剩日趋严重已对经济产生影响?

铜价自2010年以来一直在下跌,分析师认为中国需求疲软是铜价下跌的原因之一。铜被用于屋顶、排水沟和建筑伸缩装置中。另外,全球最大的钢铁生产商安赛乐米塔尔(ArcelorMittal)也预测,由于建筑业需求增长更加乏力,中国今年的钢材需求增幅将放缓。

中国近期的零售额增幅也在放缓,一定程度上是因为与购房着密切相关的家电和家具的销量增幅下降。

政府采取了什么措施?

中国中央政府已经表示,将允许地方政府实施针对本地市场的相关规定,而不是采取“一刀切”的政策。

在一些地区,地方政府正在试图施以援手。在奉化,当地政府官员正在试图避免一家本地开发商出现债务违约。在常州,为支持当地房地产市场,当地政府正试图限制开发商的打折幅度;在营口,当地政府实施了减免新房购置相关税费的措施,同时还采取措施让新的购房者更加容易地获得当地户口,以便让购房者享受包括子女教育在内的当地社会福利。不过迄今为止,这些措施对于提振住宅销量的作用都较为有限。

这是否意味着开发商们将最终开始削减仓促而急速的建设计划?

中国的一些大型房地产开发商们目前正试图将注意力重新转回大城市,因为这些城市的需求更加强劲。但是为什么在明显缺乏需求的城市中,开发商仍在继续盖楼呢?为什么美国的房地产开发商也会做同样的事情呢?这是因为,开发商们都是乐观派,他们本质上而言都是销售人员。即使在其他开发商项目表现不佳的情况下,他们也会认为自己的项目会成功。

根据野村(Nomura)的数据,在2006年-2012年期间,142家中国上市房企的利润增长581%,期间任何一年都未出现过利润下滑的情况。而在同一时期内,其他非金融企业的利润增长64%,并且存在同比利润出现下滑的情况。

凯投宏观(Capital Economics)驻伦敦的中国经济学家威廉斯(Mark Williams)称,中国房地产开发商的做法犹如互联网初创企业;他们专注于在一个持续增长的市场中抢占市场份额,但是他们所处的中小型城市的增长速度并不快。

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