KKR says China’s real estate correction may only be halfway done

High-rise buildings are illuminated at night in the West Coast New Area of Qingdao, East China’s Shandong province, on March 22, 2024. 

Nurphoto | Nurphoto | Getty Images

BEIJING — China’s real estate troubles are likely far from over and industry problems need to be addressed quickly if overall GDP growth is to pick up significantly, according to a report released Thursday by global investment firm KKR.

That’s one of the two key takeaways from a recent trip to China by the firm’s head of global and macro asset allocation, Henry H. McVey. It was his fourth visit in just over a year.

“A fundamentally overbuilt real estate industry needs to be addressed — and quickly,” he said in the report, which counts Changchun Hua, KKR’s chief economist for Greater China, among the co-authors.

“Second, confidence must be restored to drive savings back down,” McVey said, noting that would spur consumers and businesses to spend on upgrading to higher quality products, as Chinese authorities have promoted.

Real estate and related sectors once accounted for about one fifth or more of China’s economy, depending on the breadth of analysts’ calculations. The property industry has slumped in the last few years after Beijing’s crackdown on developers’ high reliance on debt for growth.

Based on comparisons to housing corrections in the U.S., Japan and Spain, China’s “housing market correction may be just halfway complete” in terms of its depth, the KKR report said.

“Both price and volume must come under pressure to finish the cleansing cycle,” the report said. “To date, though, it has largely been a contraction in volume.”

China's property market is unlikely to recover this year, Jefferies says

While KKR’s report didn’t provide much detail on expectations for specific real estate policy, the authors said more action by Beijing to improve China’s real estate sector “could materially shift investor perception.”

Amid geopolitical tensions, the country’s property market slump and drop in stocks have given many foreign institutional investors pause about China investing.

“According to some of our proprietary survey work, many allocators have considered reducing China exposure to 5-6%, down from 10-12% today at a time that we think fundamentals in the economy are likely bottoming,” the KKR report said.

Much of official Chinese data to start the year beat analysts’ expectations.

Chinese officials have said the real estate sector remains in a period of adjustment, while Beijing shifts its emphasis toward manufacturing and what it considers “high-quality development.”

Authorities have also released policies to promote financial support for select property developers, while many local governments — though not necessarily the largest cities — have significantly relaxed home purchase restrictions.

Real estate’s drag to moderate

KKR expects a modest slowdown in China’s GDP growth to 4.7% this year, and 4.5% next year, with real estate and Covid-related factors halving their drag on the economy from 1.4 percentage points in 2024 to a 0.7 percentage point drag…

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KKR says China’s real estate correction may only be halfway done

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