While US snowflakes are all too happy to talk the talk (which remains free, even despite Biden’s hyperinflation), Chinese residents are increasingly walking the walk. First, it was the violent outcry against mandatory covid vaccines that put an end to Beijing’s desire to forcibly innoculate all Beijing residents in just 48 hours – a feat not all of America’s armed militias have been able to achieve, and now it’s a grassroots push for what appears to be a debt jubillee as millions of homeowners suddenly stop paying their mortgages, a shocking move that has sent shockwaves across China’s capital markets and has sparked panic within China’s political leadership circles.
As Bloomberg reports overnight, a rapidly increasing number of “disgruntled Chinese homebuyers” are refusing to pay mortgages for unfinished construction projects, exacerbating the country’s real estate woes and stoking fears that the crisis will spread to the wider financial system as countless mortgages default.
According to researcher China Real Estate Information, homebuyers have stopped mortgage payments on at least 100 projects in more than 50 cities as of Wednesday, up from 58 projects on Tuesday and only 28 on Monday, according to Jefferies Financial Group Inc. analysts including Shujin Chen.
“The names on the list doubled every day in the past three days,” Chen wrote in a note published Thursday. “The incident would dampen buyer sentiment, especially for presold products offered by private developers given the higher risk on delivery, and weigh on the gradual sales recovery.”
What’s behind this grassroots movement to halt mortgage payments altogether? Negative equity:
Analysts believe that a drop in home values may be another driver for the refusal to meet mortgage payments. “Investors are concerned about the spread of mortgage payment snubs to buyers, simply due to lower property prices, and the impact on property sales,” Chen wrote.
According to Citi analysts, average selling prices of properties in nearby projects in 2022 were on average 15% lower than purchase costs in the past three years. Meanwhile, it’s only getting worse as China’s home prices fell for a ninth month in May, with June figures set for release Friday.
The crisis engulfing Chinese developers is reaching a new phase, with a debt selloff expanding to firms once deemed safe from the cash crunch, including investment-grade names such as Country Garden Holdings, the largest builder by sales.
The payment refusals, which come at a time when China’s economy is set to post what may be a negative GDP print due to the latest economic shutdown over Xi’s catastrophic zero covid policies, underscore how the storm engulfing China’s property sector is now affecting hundreds of thousands of average citizens, posing a threat to social stability ahead of a Communist Party Congress later this year. Chinese banks already grappling with challenges from liquidity stress among developers now also have to brace for homebuyer defaults.