Chinese buyers snap up luxury homes as ‘hard currency’ in soft property market

BEIJING (Reuters) – In the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, where the real estate sector has slowed, luxury property is bucking the downtrend, the official Securities Times reported on Monday, as wealthy buyers seek a safe haven amid a weak market.

In the southern tech hub, a total of 604 units in a luxury development that has not yet been built have been presold for up to 162,000 yuan ($23,087) per square metre, it said.

With the units ranging in size to up to 425 square meters, that suggests some could have reached values of $9.8 million.

In May, units at a project going for at least 18 million yuan each were sold out on the first day they were launched, the newspaper said.

China’s property market has slowed sharply in recent months, with prices and sales both falling after authorities stepped in to cut excessive debt held by property developers, triggering a liquidity crunch and hitting buyer sentiment.

But new luxury homes are still popular with buyers, who see them as “hard currency” in a feeble property market, the newspaper cited industry insiders as saying.

Demand has remained bleak despite a slew of stimulus measures imposed by over 200 cities to stoke buyers’ interest, with property sales by floor area falling 48% on year in August.

In contrast, in the first half of this year, the average selling price of luxury properties valued at 10 million yuan and above rose 11% from a year earlier, according to China Real Estate Information Corp (CRIC), an independent property consultancy service.

($1 = 7.0176 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Liangping Gao and Ryan Woo; Editing by Jan Harvey)