Reverse mortgages make sense to help China’s retirees

Reverse mortgages make sense to help China’s retirees
21/08/2018 , by , in INTERNATIONAL

THE China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission wants to help the elderly enjoy their golden years in comfort.

With the world’s fastest-ageing population and a pension system beset by shortfalls, China is turning to a staple of American late-night television commercials – reverse mortgages – to help out its retirees. It just might work.

Outside of Beijing and Shanghai, China’s real estate market is nearly moribund after years of spiralling values drove home-ownership beyond the reach of many people.

In the southern city of Shenzhen, which has an official population of 12.5 million and more than four million housing units, only 12,804 units changed hands in the first half of this year.

To put that in perspective, it would take 163 years at this rate to sell off existing units. In the coastal city of Xiamen, with a population of more than four million, just 2,500 units were sold.

Yet housing is one area where China has significant untapped wealth and low debt ratios.

When the government began letting people buy their own property, or at least secure long-term leases on state-owned land, most of the existing housing stock was sold to tenants at heavy discounts.

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