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Falling sales, homeowners' protests raise fears of property downturn in China

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Falling sales, homeowners' protests raise fears of property downturn in China

Protests by Chinese homeowners in Shanghai, Xiamen, Guiyang and several smaller cities against declining property prices have raised fears of a real estate market downturn in China, the Financial Times reported Oct. 17.

Homeowners have demanded refunds on their homes after property developers cut prices, some by as much as 25%, on new properties to boost sales.

The property sector is estimated to account for 15% of China's gross domestic product, with the total rising closer to 30% if related industries are included.

A downturn would further strain China's heavily indebted property developers, who had paid huge sums for land during auctions in 2017 but are now hard put to recoup their investment.

Sales by floor area fell 27% from 2017 during the Golden Week national holiday in October, usually a brisk period for house sales in China, FT reported, citing research house CRIC, which tracks data in 31 cities across the country.

Although average new home prices in China's top 70 cities rose 1.4% in August, property analysts said the fall in sales meant a period of price cuts has begun.

Tightened mortgage rules, amid a government drive to deleverage the economy, and reduced spending on a slum renovation drive have caused the recent property market weakness, the FT reported.