Business / Industries

Property sector's slump takes realty jobs with it

By GAOCHANGXIN in Shanghai and HUANG TIANTIAN in Beijing (China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-13 04:17

Real estate agents reportedly give pink slips to hundreds of employees

Realt estate agencies are on a layoff spree as home sales have frozen amid recent price dips.

Beijing Weiye Real Estate laid off five sales agents on Monday at one of its branches in Beijing's Chaoyang district, an employee, who refused to be named, told China Daily. The recent pink slips are part of a bigger layoff plan contemplated after sales slumped over the past two months to just onethird of the levels seen in 2012.

The employee said Weiye won't open any new branches until the market recovers.

In Shanghai, two leading real estate egencies, Centaline Property Agency Ltd and Shanghai Deovolente Realty, also are sacking staff, the National Business News reported onMonday.

The two companies are letting go up to 10 percent of their nonsales workforce while holding up plans to open new branches, said the newspaper, citing employees with the two companies.

Centaline denied the report on Monday, saying it has 400 to 500 sales openings to fill at themoment.

Yu Yingying, a Shanghaibased press officer with Centaline, said April sales were "good" and more than 20 new branches had been launched since the end of last year.

"I don't know where the report got its information," Yu said.

"We have always had high turnover in our sales force, which means we always sack and hire at the same time," she told China Daily. "We are good as we always have been."

China's housing market has cooled rapidly since late 2013. A monthly report by China Index Academy that monitors home price changes in China's 100 biggest cities show sthat 45 cities saw price declines in April.

Market sentiment deteriorated rapidly as the media reported stories aboutunsold homes, steep price cuts and troubled developers.

Earlier this month, buyers of a project in Shenzhen staged protests after a developer lowered prices by 2,000 yuan per square meter.

In Ningbo, a project rolled out a 25 percent cut of 5,200 yuan per square meter in late April.

The China Index Academy report showed that home prices grew just 0.1 percent in April from a month earlier, 0.28 percentage point lower than the increase in March.

"Tightening monetary financing conditions, combined with overbuilding and increased developer leverage in 2013, have worsened the housingmarket's supplydemand picture," said Barclays Plc in a report published on Friday.

The British bank said that Beijing won't allow China's property bubble to suddenly burst, as a 5 percent decline in property investment growth would shave 50 basis points off of China's GDP growth, which has already slowed to an 18month low of 7.4 percent.

Instead, the bubble will gradually deflate this year and next, it added. The bank lowered its 2015 GDP growth forecast for China by 20 basis points to 7.2 percent, as the property market correction has come "earlier and sharper than expected".

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