Readings: China’s property bubble is bursting

This is a fascinating, in-depth account about how the loud revving of China’s real estate engine in recent years has probably been the last roar of a mad party. The economist Patrick Chovanec says Q1 real estate investment rose 23%, but RE sales fell 14% in April…and that was a 17% decline for residential properties, which make up 80% of the market. It’s a great analysis that makes sense of other stories that have been coming out of the country about ghost towns and empty shopping malls.

Meanwhile, the contraction in sales, new starts, and land sales deepened even further in April.  Although the decline in sales appeared to moderate slightly for the sector as a whole (-4.5%) and for housing (-2.9%), this was again largely due to a lower base effect from last April, when sales contracted month-on-month by nearly RMB 100 billion.  This year’s April sales also registered a significant month-on-month decline, by -17.2% for all property and -15.5% for housing.  The more striking news, perhaps, is that commercial property sales, which have been much more resilient until now, also plunged, with office sales falling -23.4% year-on-year and -34.4% compared to March, and retail property sales falling -9.5% year-on-year and -22.7% month-on-month.  April was the first month in which all three categories were in year-on-year decline.

New starts in April fell -14.6% year-on-year and -27.0% month-on-month, for property as a whole.  Housing starts fell -14.4% year-on-year and -23.4% month-on-month.  Office  and retail starts, which had remained quite strong through Q1, also plunged.  Office starts fell -21.0% year-on-year in April, and -45.1% compared to March.  Retail property starts fell -18.7% year-on-year, and -36.8% compared to March.


One response to “Readings: China’s property bubble is bursting

  1. Colliers’ £150m-plus debts revealed
    Colliers International UK had amassed debts of more than £150m when it was sold for £13.8m in a prepack administration in March. A notice of statement of affairs filed this week by administrator Deloitte at Companies House reveals that the listed property services firm owed unsecured creditors £126m at the time of the sale to FirstService. It is understood that under administration procedures the maximum statutory amount to be paid out to unsecured creditors is up to around £600,000. Top of the 12-strong list of unsecured creditors is the Conrad Ritblat Pension Scheme, which was owed £67.7m. The pension scheme was not included in the Canadian giant’s £13.8m takeover of the firm. It is to be transferred to the government’s pension protection fund. It was followed by inter-company creditors with £42m outstanding, then landlords, who were owed £6.7m, according to the report.

    The sole secured creditor was Barclays Bank, which was owed £16m and received the lion’s share of the consideration paid for the firm. A statement of the group’s assets at the time of the sale to FirstService also shows that the bulk of the purchase price of the business was derived from the value of Colliers’ “trade receivables” – or fees yet to be paid. Colliers’ investment in subsidiaries, which had a book value of £40m, was written off, while its goodwill – valued at £25m – contributed just £1m to the takeover price, the documents show. A more detailed report, expected to run to more than 50 pages, will be filed by Deloitte in the coming weeks and will give a fuller picture of the state of the company in the lead-up to its sale. It has now been de-listed from AIM, allowing efforts to rebuild the business to be made out of the public spotlight. Colliers had been seeking to boost its fortunes since 2009, when FirstService injected £9m into the business in exchange for a majority 29.9% stake. The agent had been loss-making for three years and had a market capitalisation of less than £1m before its takeover. It was due to repay some £18m of bank debt in September. FirstService is the predominant owner of the Colliers International brand worldwide.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s