China Faces Soaring Foreclosures as Property Market Slump Intensifies

A private survey released on Monday indicated that the number of foreclosed homes in China surged by a staggering 43% year-on-year in 2023. The report, conducted by the reputable China Index Academy, highlighted the distressing trend of increasing mortgage delinquencies amid a prolonged downturn in the property market and an uneven economic recovery.

According to the survey, the total number of foreclosed homes put up for auction reached a significant 389,000 units last year. Shockingly, 99,000 units with a combined value of 150 billion yuan ($20.84 billion) were successfully sold at these auctions. The distress in the property market is further underscored by the record-high total foreclosures, encompassing commercial, residential, and industrial properties, as well as land, garages, and parking spaces, which totaled a staggering 796,000 units. This marked a substantial increase of 36.7% from the previous year.

The troubled property market witnessed the most severe decline in new home prices in almost nine years in 2023, significantly impacting the broader economic recovery. Despite China’s overall economic growth of 5.2% last year, the diversion of credit away from the property sector towards manufacturing and sustained investment in infrastructure contributed to the economic growth.

Among the hardest-hit areas, the southwestern second-tier cities of Chongqing and Chengdu were identified as the most affected by home foreclosures, leading in the number of auctions conducted last year. The China Index Academy revealed that the trend of increasing foreclosures has been persistent since 2020 and has continued to escalate in the early days of 2024.

In a related development, e-commerce giant disclosed that its online auction platform has successfully sold 11 homes, each valued at more than 10 million yuan, in the first ten days of January alone. The company announced plans for additional auctions featuring luxury homes in top-tier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai during the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays.

The mounting foreclosures and the ongoing slump in the property market raise significant concerns about the stability of China’s real estate sector and its potential impact on the broader economy. Analysts will be closely monitoring developments in the coming months to assess the implications and potential measures to address the challenges facing the housing market.


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