Real estate sales fall by 70% in Beijing and Shanghai on China property tax fears

06/01/2010 2:54 pm EST


Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor,

Shanghai has submitted a plan to begin China’s first property tax on residential real estate to the Beijing government for review. The plan is rumored to include a tax on people without residence permits and on those who haven’t filed an income tax return in three years. (For more on Shanghai’s plans to impose a tax on real estate and its effects see my post )

The central government itself has approved the National Development and Reform Commission’s gradual national reform of property taxes. Developers don’t know exactly how strict that policy will be—although the consensus is that Shanghai’s plans, if approved, would be more stringent—or how quickly they will be implemented.

The effect of this uncertainty over national and local real estate taxes has been to freeze the real estate market. Property sales in Beijing and Shanghai fell by about 70% in May as developers have delayed pricing properties until they see what taxes they face.

Not surprisingly shares of real estate developers have plunged. After a 1.4% drop today, an index on the Shanghai stock exchange that tracks 34 real estate companies is down 30% for 2010.

And the drop in real estate stocks isn’t doing anything good for the wider stock market.

The Shanghai Composite Index dropped almost 1% to close at 2,568, its lowest level since May 20.

I don’t think this marks the bottom for China’s stocks. The real estate market is still overheated. Manufacturing growth slowed in May. And economic growth as a whole looks like it's slowing.

If you’re been waiting for a buying opportunity in Chinese stock markets, I think it pays to wait a while longer. Bad news is still getting louder but we haven’t heard the climax yet.
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