China property think-tank apologises for high vacancy rate report

Reports of high vacancy rates could worsen sentiment in China's distressed property market. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - A Chinese property think-tank apologised on Thursday (Aug 11) for sparking a heated public discussion with its report on rising housing vacancy rates in China, and said its assessment may not be sufficiently accurate.

Beike Research Institute, owned by Chinese real estate services firm KE Holdings, published a report on Aug 5 after conducting a survey, warning of oversupply in China's property market due to high rates of unoccupied homes in major Chinese cities.

"The survey takes whether a home has been unoccupied for three straight months as an indicator, which does not fully reflect the real situation," said Beike in a statement published on its WeChat account.

"We will cross-check the accuracy of the data with the housing, water and electricity departments."

Reports of high vacancy rates could worsen sentiment in China's distressed property market where some cash-strapped developers have defaulted on loans and bond repayments and home buyers in several cities are refusing to pay their mortgages due to work stoppages on unfinished homes.

The government has in recent months stepped up measures to help stabilise the sector, which accounts for roughly a quarter of the economy.

The Beike report said the average housing vacancy rate in 28 major cities is higher than in the United States, Canada, France, Australia and Britain, with a 7 per cent vacancy rate in tier-one cities including Beijing, and 12 per cent in tier-two cities.

Beike declined to provide further comment when contacted by Reuters. The report is no longer available on its official WeChat account.

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