Can't afford a house deposit? Pay in garlic, say Chinese builders

·2 min read
 Real estate ads in China asking for wheat, garlic and peaches as partial payment
Real estate ads in China asking for wheat, garlic and peaches as partial payment

Wheat, garlic and watermelon are being accepted as down payments on homes by Chinese property developers, desperate to offload their real estate.

The unusual promotion is being targeted at farmers in smaller Chinese cities as developers seek to offload a glut of inventory as the world’s second-largest economy continues to be squeezed by strict Covid lockdowns.

To attract would-be buyers, one property company in Nanjing said it would accept as much as 5,000 kg of watermelons – valued at roughly 100,000 yuan (£12,430) – as a form of payment.

Another real estate firm ran a promotion saying it would allow as much as 188,888 yuan (£23,470) worth of peaches to go toward down payments.

Another company said in an ad that it would take wheat and garlic – valued at two to five yuan per kilo (£0.25 to 0.62).

China’s property market has long been a closely-tracked bellwether for the country’s economy. The sector, however, has struggled recently, given weak buyer demand leading home prices in China to fall in May for the second month in row.

Developers are also saddled with debt, with one major company – Shimao – defaulting last week on a $1 billion offshore bond, citing “challenging operating and funding conditions,” according to a stock market filing.

Other major Chinese property firms, including Evergrande and Sunac, have also defaulted on debt obligations.

Experts say more stimulus is needed on top of measures that more than 100 cities in China have already taken to boost demand by slashing mortgage rates, allowing smaller down payments, and handing out subsidies.

China’s tight zero-Covid policies – in which residents are sealed into their homes, unable to leave to buy groceries or walk their dogs, with those testing positive or deemed close contacts sent to government quarantine – has also meant developers, agents and buyers have been unable to visit properties and set up deals.

For reasons unknown, at least the firm in Nanjing seeking watermelon as payment has had to halt its unique promotion upon request from headquarters, according to Chinese state media.

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