Online property sales are booming in China

Online property sales are booming in China
10/12/2018 , by , in INTERNATIONAL

From a three-story villa in Chongqing to a rundown factory in Jiangsu province, you can search, find, and buy it without leaving your living room in China.

Online distressed property sales are booming in the world’s largest bad-debt market. Global funds like Oaktree Capital Group and Bain Capital are getting in on the action but the internet has meant even individuals or smaller companies can snag a bargain. Banks, real estate firms and people saddled with debt they can’t service are facing either forced sales or are keen to offload assets for quick cash.

Distressed property listings on Alibaba Group Holding’s Taobao auction site, the country’s largest, rose 88 per cent in October from a year earlier as the company expanded its offerings by working with courts and asset managers. Across all auction sites in China, distressed real estate listings surged to a record 1.3 trillion yuan (S$258.94 billion) this year, data compiled by realtor Seatune show.

“With bad loans rising and property prices falling, be assured this trend will continue,” said James Feng, the chairman of Poseidon Capital Group, a Chinese fund that specialises in buying distressed assets.

Alibaba, which started its auction site about six years ago, facilitated around 500 billion yuan of such auctions last year, accounting for more than half of China’s total, Feng estimates.

Getting a bargain is one of the main reasons people buy property online. A two-bedroom apartment in downtown Shanghai worth about 10 million yuan at current market prices went for a 44 per cent discount on Taobao in September. In Hangzhou, a city in eastern Zhejiang province, a 60 million yuan unit with marble floors, sweeping staircases and chandeliers is listed on Taobao for around 40 per cent less than current prices.

Distressed property – be it homes, which individuals are more interested in, or land or warehouses, which companies like – is typically offered at about two-thirds of its market value. Heated bidding can see prices pushed up to about 90 per cent of that, according to Zhejiang Province Zheshang Asset Management, although only about 40 per cent of listings actually sell.

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