The property market in the Chinese mainland has gone through the worst time, and both transaction volumes and prices are expected to pick up in the second half of 2012, Jing Ulrich, managing director and chairman of global markets, China at J.P. Morgan said here Wednesday.
Ulrich said during the "CFA Institute Asia Pacific Investment Conference" held on Wednesday that the developers in the Chinese mainland has about 12 to 14 months of unsold inventory, with the transaction volumes early on having crashed by about 50 to 70 percent, indicating the property market may remain "sluggish" in the next several months.
However, she said the developers are quite eager to attract buyers in by lowering prices to ease the huge inventory, therefore the transaction volumes are expected to come back and stabilize in the second half of this year.
On the other hand, the housing prices have dropped quite harshly in the last four months, Ulrich said. She visited some property sites in the key cities in the Chinese mainland and found out the prices are coming down by as much as 20 to 30 percent at the high end, and about 10 to 15 percent at the lower end.
She expects the housing prices to keep lowering in the next few months, while starting to pick up some time in the forth quarter of 2012 as the transaction volumes recover, but a major rebound is quite unlikely to be seen.
Ulrich said the tightening program on the property sector has persisted for about 13 to 14 months, and she does not expect any further tightening, instead, people may see some favorable policies coming out at the margin.
She said the home buyers have noted the dropping prices now, and the massive genuine demand is releasing gradually. Some banks are starting to offer discounts on the mortgage rate by about 10 to 15 percent to the first-time home buyers.
"Looking at the overall picture, I think the worst is behind us in the property sector."
In addition, Ulrich expects the structure of the Chinese property market to change quite significantly in the next 15 years, with the lower-end supply to increase and the higher-end supply to diminish, and some developers have already begun to shift their programs towards the trend.
"Companies that are positioned in the lower-to-mid-end market will do much better compared to companies that only build villas."
Ulrich said the property sector basically made windfall profit before the tightening policy that was introduced in early 2011, with as much as 25 percent net profit margins.
Going forward, the margins will be "much lower" as the market shifts the focus to deliver large volumes of lower-cost housing, she said.
The conference, co-held by the CFA Institute and The Hong Kong Society of Financial Analyst Ltd. (HKSFA), brought together ten noted speakers and about 250 investment and finance professionals to examine global investment topics.
Headquartered in the United States, the CFA Institute is a non-profit association that mainly administers the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) and CIPM (Certificate Investment Performance Measurement) curriculum and examination worldwide. The HKSFA is one of CFA Institute's 135 member societies.