Property loses allure for investors
2017-10-30, WU YIYAO

For many property owners in Shanghai, the downtrend in both rentals and home sale prices this year is quite different from previous years. And that is not good news.

The average price of pre-owned properties in Shanghai dropped from 52,640 yuan ($8,060) per square meter in January to 50,674 yuan per sq m in September.

During the same period, rentals dropped by somewhere between 200 yuan per month and 1,000 yuan per month, depending on the home size and location.

Rents vary greatly, from 1,500 yuan per month to more than 30,000 yuan per month, according to, an online property services provider.

When home prices are not rising, some people choose to rent out their properties rather than sell, which increases rental supplies and lowers prices, said a research note from Centaline Property.

However, some property owners said they are still going to sell, based on their calculations and comparisons of yields.

“If I sell my property at the average price, I could have about 7 million yuan, and annual yield could be above 260,000 yuan if I put it into wealth management products,” said Peng Shanlin, a 67-year-old property owner in Shanghai. “But if I lease it, rental income would be about 84,000 yuan.”

Real estate agents said that increasing numbers of homeowners are thinking of selling properties and investing the money in other assets.

“Home price growth in several key cities this year is already lower than that of many wealth management products, and the low return rate of leasing out properties is not attractive,” said Tao Yongliang, a real estate agent with Zhonghuan Property, in Shanghai.

The average yield of wealth management products offered through bank channels is above 4 percent, and home price growth is negative, while the yield of leasing out a property is below 2 percent in Shanghai.

“If you do the calculation, you would realize that a spare apartment is no longer an asset that will generate a relatively high yield. If the policies of making housing prices stable are continued for the next few years, more property owners are likely to consider shifting their wealth from property to other assets,” said Tao.

Yan Yuejin, research director with E-house China R&D, a property industry information provider, said cities where home price growth has slowed have affected investor sentiment.

“This is a good trend that makes residential properties serve their original purpose — that of providing a place to live in,” he said.

Zhang Dawei, an analyst with Centaline Property in Beijing, said in a research note that in the remaining part of this year, key cities such as Beijing and Shanghai would see average home price growth stay low.

Speculative demand still exists, which is spilling over to lower tier cities located near key cities, said Zhang.

But, Yan from E-house China said, investing in residential properties in cities that do not have a solid foundation for population growth and employment growth could be risky.

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