Protests hit China as property prices fall

October 27, 2011 7:55 am


Pedestrians walking along a park near the financial district of Shanghai/AFP
SHANGHAI, Oct 27 – Hundreds of angry home buyers launched a series of protests in China’s commercial hub of Shanghai this week, as owners decried falling prices for their properties, state media said Thursday.

Hit by weak demand and lack of funding, developers have slashed prices for some new projects in the city by more than 20 percent, the China Business News said, causing an outcry among those who bought at higher levels.

In the latest incident, some 200 home owners on Wednesday besieged the sales office for a project of leading developer Greenland Group, demanding refunds, the Shanghai Daily said.

“We require a refund because the loss we are suffering now is too great for us to afford,” the paper quoted a protestor as saying.

He paid 17,000 yuan ($2,678) per square metre last year and claimed the developer had cut the price by around 30 percent to boost sales.

In a another incident, 30 home owners stormed the sales office of a project of Hong Kong-listed China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd.on Wednesday, the Global Times said, repeating a similar protest from over the weekend.

In at least one case, protests have turned violent. Home owners smashed a glass door over the weekend at a sales office of Hong Kong-listed Longfor Properties Co. Ltd. for another project in a Shanghai suburb.

Shanghai has responded by ordering developers who cut prices by more than 20 percent to report the change to the government, but a local official said authorities had no power to stop companies from slashing prices.

Demand for apartments has been falling after authorities, fearing a property bubble, banned the purchase of second homes, increased minimum downpayments and trialled property taxes in some cities — including Shanghai.

At the same time, property developers have been hit by lack of funds, as the government hiked interest rates and restricted bank lending to rein in surging inflation and bring real estate prices into line.

Nationwide, prices of new homes in Chinese cities actually remained resilient in September from August despite government efforts to cool the property market, with prices in 24 out of 70 Chinese cities rising.

Another 29 cities recorded stable prices in September, while only 17 cities recorded price falls, the government said.


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