Chinese Communist Party “Rattled” by Citizens Refusing to Pay Mortgages on Unfinished Apartments

(p. B1) The rows of towering buildings crowding the banks of the Gan River are a testament to the real estate boom that transformed Nanchang in eastern China from a gritty manufacturing hub to a modern urban center.

Now those skyscrapers are evidence of something very different: China’s real estate market in crisis, reeling after years of overbuilding.

. . .

Nanchang illustrates the enormous challenges policymakers face in trying to revive China’s economy. During past downturns, Beijing turned to real estate and infrastructure spending to jump-start the economy. But this time, it won’t be an easy fix. Developers are saddled with debt, cities are teeming with empty dwellings, and local government finances are depleted from years of paying for Covid testing.

Many of Nanchang’s newest apartments remain empty because developers ran out of money and did not finish building already-sold units. Some homeowners are refusing to pay mortgages until their apartments are finished, a nationwide act of dissent that has rattled the Chinese Communist Party.

. . .

Shortly after her daughter was born in 2019, Andie Cao, who lives and works in Shanghai, bought an unfinished apartment in Nanchang. It was closer to her hometown in the Chinese countryside, and she planned to move after the developer was set to finish the project in late 2021.

But the developer ran into financial problems and stopped construction in July 2021. After continuing to pay the mortgage for a year, Ms. Cao and other homeowners staged a mortgage boycott last July [2022].

Ms. Cao said that the salespeople had also told her that the apartment was in one of Nanchang’s more established districts with good schools, but that it was actually zoned for a neighboring, less developed area on the city’s outskirts.

“Everyone was deceived,” she said. “Otherwise, why would there be so many people buying a home in the suburbs?”

She said she was continuing to boycott, because the homes were still unfinished. She said the police had visited her parents to tell Ms. Cao to stop speaking out. The banks are now suing some of her boycotting neighbors.

For the full story, see:

Daisuke Wakabayashi and Claire Fu. “Once a Symbol of China’s Growth, Now a Sign of a Housing Crisis.” The New York Times (Wednesday, May 31, 2023): B1 & B4.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date May 25, 2023, and has the same title as the print version.)

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