The new coronavirus may be heating up homes, as many Chinese opt to stay housebound to avoid getting infected. But it’s having the opposite effect on China’s housing market, which has just experienced one of its chilliest months in recent memory.
Sales for Chinese property developers plunged 38% in February compared with the same month a year earlier, based on the average from a list of the nation’s 100 largest companies compiled by real estate data cruncher CRIC. On a month-to-month basis, February sales plunged by an even higher 44% when compared with January, CRIC said.
The latest data show that smaller firms are getting hit more than the larger ones. But everyone is suffering after local governments ordered the shuttering of sales offices that are the primary place where most deals for new homes are negotiated and signed.
Among the top 20, leading developer Evergrande was the lone developer to record a gain in February, with sales more than doubling from a year earlier. But that happened only after it launched a “marketing for everyone” campaign midway through the month, offering hefty 25% discounts for 613 of its properties.
In the face of bans on their bricks-and-mortar sales offices, many companies have turned to online showrooms to try and make up some of the shortfall. CRIC found that of the 100 top developers, 92 are now operating online sales offices.
Related: In Depth: China’s Property Market Grinds to a Halt Amid Coronavirus Curbs