Business / Industries

China property hard sell intensifies in bid to lift sagging sector

(Agencies) Updated: 2014-09-24 07:38

But those in the market were hopeful such a move was imminent, especially since regional governments have already tried to prop up the market by abolishing housing investment limits in 40 of 46 cities.

"The unwinding of property controls by local governments should lift sales, but the effect so far isn't obvious," said a senior executive at a mid-sized listed developer in Beijing, who declined to be named.

"Relaxing the rules on home loans would be more effective and practical."

China property hard sell intensifies in bid to lift sagging sector 
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China property hard sell intensifies in bid to lift sagging sector
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Losing weight, free chickens 

In the meantime, developers are resorting to off-beat marketing ploys to boost business.

China's largest residential developer China Vanke has partnered Taobao, China's version of eBay, to give shoppers who have spent at least 1 yuan on Taobao in the past year a discount of 50,000 yuan ($8,148) when they buy a home featured in a promotion.

And discounts go up to 2 million yuan for those who have bought 2 million yuan worth of goods on Taobao, owned by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

The promotion, which includes a free taxi ride for those who visit the showroom, has drawn an "especially good response", Taobao said in a statement this month when Vanke expanded the promotion to cover more housing projects.

The month-long initiative now covers apartments and villas in 40 Vanke projects spread across 14 cities, including the eastern city of Hangzhou, one of the areas worst hit by an oversupply of homes and falling property prices.

With China Poly Real Estate, one of China's largest developers, buyers can get discounts proportionate to the amount of weight they lose in a few weeks, the Beijing Evening News newspaper said last week.

"Many property developers face big pressure to meet their sales targets this year," said Zhang Xu, an analyst at property consultant HomeLink, in Beijing. "Some of them are exploring new ways to boost sales."

Developers started cutting prices in February, but modest reductions failed to turn the market around as buyers held out for bigger discounts.

And as inventories of unsold homes climbed during the traditional peak season for property launches in September and October, analysts said developers, especially those strapped for cash, could offer deeper discounts in the coming months.

As of the end of August, half of the 24 listed developers monitored by HomeLink were more than 50 percent short of meeting their 2014 sales targets, data from HomeLink showed.

For an unnamed developer in Guangxi, a region in Southwest China, giving live chickens away for free has proved an effective way of drawing attention to a property launch.

"They're yours if you can catch them", Chinese media reports quoted the promotional material as saying.

Pictures online showed smiling retirees grabbing chickens by their claws, with 1,000 live poultry snapped up in 15 minutes.

The reports did not say how many homes were sold.

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