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Pearl Liu



Articles by Pearl Liu

Kerry Properties becomes latest Hong Kong developer to make huge land acquisition in China

6 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Hong Kong’s biggest developers continue to buy prime land sites in top-tier cities in mainland China, as they take advantage of the general malaise among competitors that are struggling to survive an unprecedented debt load in the industry.Kerry Properties, controlled by the Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok, paid 13.3 billion yuan (US$2.1 billion) for four plots of mixed-use land in Shanghai during the municipal government’s first auction of the year on January 4. It plans to turn the site…

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China property crisis: if last year was bad for the likes of Evergrande, Kaisa and Fantasia, just wait for 2022 as more pain predicted for investors

17 days ago

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Last year has no doubt been difficult for Chinese developers and the pain could get worse in the new year for companies, homebuyers and investors alike. A liquidity crunch amid slowing home sales are likely to dominate sentiment.China Evergrande, Kaisa Group, Fantasia Holdings and Modern Land (China) all made headlines over their failure to repay onshore and foreign creditors.Beijing’s “three red lines” policy, which set the debt thresholds for the real estate sector, limited highly leveraged…

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China’s stuttering housing market shows signs of life as banks make it easier for first-time buyers to get mortgages approved

December 1, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s beleaguered housing market is showing signs of life after banks made it easier for buyers to get their mortgages approved.New homes covering a total area of 12 billion square metres (129 billion square feet) in 42 major cities were sold in the first 20 days of November, 12 per cent more than in the same period the previous month, according to Central Wealth Securities, a Chinese broker.The increase comes after regulators called on lenders to support the market by easing the stringent…

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Major Chinese cities cut land auction prices by up to 20 per cent to lure cash-strapped developers amid market gloom

November 24, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Major cities in China are slashing the price of land they are auctioning off in an effort to attract bids from cash-strapped property developers facing a market downturn.Beijing put 12 parcels of land on the market on November 19, including two in eastern Chaoyang district with a combined reserve price of 4.8 billion yuan (HK$5.9 billion), 15 per cent lower than they were priced in September.The two plots failed to find buyers at the last auction in September, when they were offered as one…

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China Vanke tells staff to cut spending on travel, gifts as even the most financially stable developers face up to property sector gloom

November 19, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s biggest property developers – even those not in the grip of a debt crisis – are pulling out all the stops to cut costs as the industry faces a gloomy outlook.China Vanke, the country’s third-biggest home seller by sales, told its staff to “live frugally, spend small money and do big things” at a meeting on Tuesday, according to an internal document seen by the Post.Likening the circumstances to a “war time” mentality, the company asked employees to book cheap tickets and hotels when…

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Local authorities are finding ways to soften the blow of China’s tight real estate policies without incurring Beijing’s wrath

November 16, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]More Chinese cities have watered down tougher cooling measures in a bid to shore up faltering property market sentiment, but analysts say the wind-back efforts are small and in line with the central government’s mantra that “housing is for living, not for speculation”.The local government in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province in central China, said last week that the senior management of companies headquartered in the city are now free to buy homes regardless of whether they are residents or non…

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Shenzhen relaxes rules for developers buying land, backing away from the cap that sent real estate auctions into a tailspin

November 3, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Shenzhen has relaxed the conditions for taking part in land sales, one of the first among China’s local authorities to backtrack from the draconian measures that have sent the entire country’s real estate industry into a tailspin.According to the new rules laid out by the Planning and Natural Resources Bureau of China’s technology metropolis, more than one developer will be allowed to bid for land at the same price, where the competition will be based on how many homes they can build under the …

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Beike Zhaofang, China’s biggest online property agency, axes staff as housing sector heads into a bleak winter

October 21, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Ke Holdings, China’s biggest online property agency, also known as Beike Zhaofang, has started laying off staff across the country as the housing sector slides into the doldrums.A former Beike employee in Chengdu, who chose only to give her last name, Xue, told the Post her manager started to summon her team members one by one in July to talk about the difficulties faced by the company and the wider industry.“We all knew it was just a way to persuade us to leave the company,” said Xue, who was…

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China’s September home price index falls, the first monthly drop in 6 years and sign of the coming winter for the real estate market

October 20, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s monthly benchmark price index of new homes fell for the first time in more than six years, confirming the real estate slump that dragged the nation’s economy to its slowest quarterly growth pace since September 2020.The average cost of a new home in China fell by 0.1 per cent in September from last year, according to the price data of 70 major cities tracked by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released on Wednesday. The monthly decline was the first since May 2015, in contrast to…

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Evergrande’s debt crisis sates appetite for risk, forcing 206 plots to withdraw from China’s land auctions since September

October 19, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Chinese local governments have withdrawn some 206 plots of land from auctions in major cities since last month as buyers tightened their finances after Evergrande’s debt crisis roiled the property market.The plots represented almost one-third of about 700 plots that were put up for sale in 22 cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Since September, 15 cities have completed two rounds of auctions under a new centralised sale programme, according to Centaline Properties.In Beijing, 17…

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China debt: Evergrande’s magnate Hui Ka-yan and Chinese Estates’ founder Joseph Lau through the years

September 21, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Hong Kong’s property tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-hung is one of the closest business allies of the Chinese real estate magnate Hui Ka-yan, in a friendship and alliance forged through weekly card games going back more than a decade.Lau and his family-controlled Chinese Estates Holdings Limited had been involved either as a buyer, or the seller, in almost every significant transaction by China Evergrande Group, ever since Hui listed the Shenzhen property company for HK$6.5 billion in Hong Kong in 2009…

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Nine bonds of Evergrande’s flagship go on restricted trading after ratings cut in latest woe to befall indebted developer

September 16, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Trading restrictions were placed on nine onshore bonds sold by China Evergrande Group’s flagship property unit, after a local credit rating agency slashed the debts’ creditworthiness, deepening the woes for the world’s most indebted real estate developer.Three yuan-denominated bonds valued at 28.2 billion yuan (US$4.4 billion) issued by Evergrande’s Hengda Real Estate Group unit were restricted to negotiated transactions on the Shanghai Stock Exchange, according to a statement. On the stock…

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Home prices in China’s school districts go off the boil amid crackdown on elitism to ensure balanced allocation of resources

August 25, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s home prices are falling in districts where the most prestigious schools are located, as efforts by local authorities to tamp down the home-buying frenzy in school districts are paying off.A home in Futian, the seat of Shenzhen’s municipal government and the city’s central business district, sold last week for 98,884 yuan (US$15,250) per square metre, 42 per cent less than a home sold in the same neighbourhood three months earlier. The home, measuring 105 square metres (1,130 square feet…

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Three-child policy: China’s median home size may have to grow by a third to 120 square metres to house larger families

June 8, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]The Chinese government’s landmark policy to prod couples to have up to three children will fundamentally alter the housing industry, and spur developers to build bigger homes to accommodate larger families.Flats smaller than 90 square metres, which make up 70 per cent of the homes built by all residential property projects, are likely to give way to larger classes of abodes: those between 90 and up to 144 square metres, and luxury residences larger than 144 square metres, according to E-house…

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Real estate agent lands in hot water after using durians and bananas as ciphers for home prices to evade crackdown

May 26, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]A property agent in Shenzhen that attempted to circumvent government pricing guidelines by using fruit symbols as a code for home prices has received a warning from the authorities for its “misconduct”.The Macalline Aijia agency inflated the prices of second-hand units well beyond official limits and tried to disguise the fact by displaying a cipher that used durians and bananas in place of numerical values, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said late on Tuesday.The code, with the fruits…

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Real estate agent lands in hot water after using durians and bananas as ciphers for home prices to evade crackdown

May 26, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]A property agent in Shenzhen that attempted to circumvent government pricing guidelines by using fruit symbols as a code for home prices has received a warning from the authorities for its “misconduct”.The Macalline Aijia agency inflated the prices of second-hand units well beyond official limits and tried to disguise the fact by displaying a cipher that used durians and bananas in place of numerical values, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said late on Tuesday.The code, with the fruits…

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China’s April home prices soar at breakneck pace, putting onus on authorities to keep housing affordability in sight

May 17, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s home prices soared at the fastest rate in eight months to the highest level in five and half years, as buyers defied the government’s cooling measures to deflate the property bubble.The average price of new homes across 70 major cities rose 4.8 per cent in April, from a year ago, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Prices increased in 62 of the 70 cities tracked by the NBS, led by soaring listings in Chongqing, a megapolis of 30 million people.Surging prices at the…

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Beijing summons online financial platforms and warns over unfair market practices

April 29, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s top financial regulators have summoned 13 of the country’s technology companies that run online financial businesses, including Tencent Holdings and Tik Tok-owner ByteDance, and told them to step up anti-monopoly measures and to halt “the disorderly expansion of capital”.The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, the China Securities Regulatory Commission, and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange talked as one with the tech-run…

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Beijing orders five Chinese cities including Guangzhou, Dongguan to rein in their runaway house prices

April 10, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s central government has told the leaders of five cities to rein in their overheated residential property markets in a move analysts believe signals Beijing is prepared to intervene directly where required.The deputy housing minister summoned top officials from Guangzhou, Hefei, Ningbo, Dongguan and Nantong on Thursday and instructed them to to roll out cooling measures where needed, according to the Xinhua state news agency.“The local government should actively monitor new issues in its…

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‘Two sessions’ 2021: China to expand land supply to rein in runaway home prices as premier vows to get a grip on affordability

March 5, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s government will make more land available for developers to increase the housing stock in the world’s largest property market, as it keeps a tight lid on runaway prices to ensure that affordability is within the reach of the nation’s first-home buyers.The government will also increase the supply of subsidised rental homes and shared ownership housing to ensure well-regulated development of the long-term rental housing market, and cut taxes and rental fees.“We will keep the prices of land…

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Real estate moguls with a Greece-size debt problem look for hints of relief, even as China’s legislature tries to wean industry off its loans

February 23, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]In the second part of a series looking at China’s forthcoming legislative meetings, known as the Two Sessions, we look at how China’s real estate developers, among the biggest debtors in the country, are looking for hints of relief as 15 of them sit through the proceedings that begin next week. The first part of the series is here.China’s property developers, who replaced managers of decrepit state-owned factories as the nation’s largest debtors, will be in the hot seat when they show up next…

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China Fortune Land’s US$813 million of missed debt payments sparks fears of further defaults under Beijing’s ‘three red lines’ for property developers

February 3, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Concerns about rising defaults in China’s property sector grew as a major developer became the first casualty of strict deleveraging rules recently introduced by the government, missing debt payments.China Fortune Land Development, ranked 43rd by sales nationally last year, said it had overdue loans of 5.26 billion yuan (US$813.37 million) because of a liquidity shortage. Fitch Ratings downgraded the developer on Wednesday to reflect the “extremely high risk” of buying its debt.The Beijing…

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Four of China’s biggest cities scramble to knock a real estate bull run off its pace amid fear of risk and bubbling debt

January 29, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Local authorities of four major Chinese cities have erected barriers over the past week to prevent an unprecedented flood of cheap money unleashed by the central bank from buoying prices in the 17.4 trillion yuan (US$2.7 trillion) housing market.Shanghai, the country’s commercial hub, kicked off the market-cooling policies last Friday with some of the most draconian policies to limit the amount of money homebuyers can borrow for buying real estate. That was followed within days by housing…

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China’s first carmaker FAW joins the rush to ditch petrol guzzlers in a 30 billion yuan venture with Audi to produce electric cars

January 19, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s very first carmaker is entering the fray to assemble electric cars, as it joins the shift towards electrification in the world’s largest automotive industry, where one in every five vehicles will be powered by electricity by 2025.FAW Group, founded in 1953 to spearhead Mao Zedong’s industrialisation, will team up with its German partner Audi to build a 30 billion yuan (US$4.6 billion) plant in the Jilin provincial capital of Changchun in north-eastern China. FAW, which already makes…

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China braces for another record year of bond defaults as cash-starved developers breach central bank’s red lines for borrowings

January 19, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]China’s corporate defaults may set a record this year when a trio of the central bank’s debt limits kick in this month, as they crimp the ability by borrowers to use loans to repay their outstanding debt.One in five of China’s biggest real estate developers including China Evergrande Group will be barred from borrowing any more money from banks according to the three red lines on debt drawn by the People’s Bank of China, the state-owned Economic Information Daily said.The red lines are…

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Chinese millennials’ craze for toys spawns multimillion-dollar industry in blind boxes, drawing calls to curb speculation

January 1, 2021

[unable to retrieve full-text content]When C.C. Sun first heard in 2019 about so-called blind box toys, collectible figures in mystery packaging, the 32-year-old engineer from Tianjin mocked her colleague for playing with children’s stuff.Fast forward to last June. When Sun saw Harry Potter figures were on the offer, the big fan of the magical world created by J.K. Rowling did not hesitate to pay 59 yuan (US$9) each, and got a palm-sized figurine of Professor McGonagall.The toe-dip ended up costing her more than 2,000 yuan within a…

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Without love life and family trappings, China’s singles become consumption engine in economy

December 26, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Angela Wang has no qualms when it comes to splurging on her two cats. Being single and financially-independent, she has spent some 50,000 yuan (US$7,650) on her exotic shorthair and a British blue over the past two years, treating them to food and toys on most days, and haircuts and spa visits on occasional weekends.“My pets are my family here,” said the 31-year-old marketing manager with a fashion retailing company, who moved to Chengdu in southwestern Sichuan province four years ago after…

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Speculators zoom in on Shenzhen to flip new homes for quick profit, raising warning of ‘grey rhino’ risks and regulators’ ire

December 1, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Shenzhen, the crucible of China’s economic reforms and the nation’s technology hub, is seeing a buying frenzy in residential property, as a government-imposed price cap created arbitrage opportunities for speculators to make quick profits.At CR Land’s CR City project in Nanshan district, the average price capped at 130,000 yuan (US$19,760) per square metre was 28 per cent cheaper than the neighbourhood’s prevailing market price . That attracted more than 10,000 bidders, helping the state-owned…

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Cost of buying a bigger home is putting Chinese couples off having a second child, survey finds

November 25, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Buying a bigger home to raise more children is so expensive that parents in China are deciding against having a second baby, undermining government efforts to boost the population, according to a new survey.More than a third of respondents in the survey by Ke.com Research said they are against having a second child, with nearly half of those citing the heavy economic burden as their major concern.“Buying a home is just too expensive and we cannot afford a bigger one for having a second child,”…

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Zhuhai, second richest city in mainland Greater Bay Area after Shenzhen, touts upbeat economic growth to attract talent

November 18, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]Zhuhai may be the smallest of the nine cities in Guangdong province within the Greater Bay Area, but the mainland Chinese city that sits on the Pearl River Delta estuary punches well above its weight.Zhuhai’s per capita gross domestic product of 175,500 yuan (US$26,800) last year was the second highest after Shenzhen among its mainland bay area peers. According to the Zhuhai government website, it ranked first in the Top 10 Livable Cities in China in 2019 with a score of 90.13.There’s a reason…

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