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Evaluating Conditions in Major Chinese Housing Markets

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  • Jing Wu
  • Joseph Gyourko
  • Yongheng Deng

Abstract

High and rising prices in Chinese housing markets have attracted global attention, as well as the interest of the Chinese government and its regulators. Housing markets look very risky based on the stylized facts we document. Price-to-rent ratios in Beijing and seven other large markets across the country have increased from 30% to 70% since the beginning of 2007. Current price-to-rent ratios imply very low user costs of no more than 2%-3% of house value. Very high expected capital gains appear necessary to justify such low user costs of owning. Our calculations suggest that even modest declines in expected appreciation would lead to large price declines of over 40% in markets such as Beijing, absent offsetting rent increases or other countervailing factors. Price-to-income ratios also are at their highest levels ever in Beijing and select other markets. Much of the increase in prices is occurring in land values. Using data from the local land auction market in Beijing, we are able to produce a constant quality land price index for that city. Real, constant quality land values have increased by nearly 800% since the first quarter of 2003, with half that rise occurring over the past two years. State-owned enterprises controlled by the central government have played an important role in this increase, as our analysis shows they paid 27% more than other bidders for an otherwise equivalent land parcel.

Suggested Citation

  • Jing Wu & Joseph Gyourko & Yongheng Deng, 2010. "Evaluating Conditions in Major Chinese Housing Markets," NBER Working Papers 16189, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16189
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Charles Himmelberg & Christopher Mayer & Todd Sinai, 2005. "Assessing High House Prices: Bubbles, Fundamentals and Misperceptions," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 67-92, Fall.
    2. Albert Saiz, 2010. "The Geographic Determinants of Housing Supply," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(3), pages 1253-1296.
    3. Glaeser, Edward L. & Gyourko, Joseph & Saiz, Albert, 2008. "Housing supply and housing bubbles," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 64(2), pages 198-217, September.
    4. Hongbin Cai & J. Vernon Henderson & Qinghua Zhang, 2013. "China's land market auctions: evidence of corruption?," RAND Journal of Economics, RAND Corporation, vol. 44(3), pages 488-521, September.
    5. George A. Akerlof, 2009. "How Human Psychology Drives the Economy and Why It Matters," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1175-1175.
    6. James M. Poterba, 1984. "Tax Subsidies to Owner-Occupied Housing: An Asset-Market Approach," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 99(4), pages 729-752.
    7. Shang-Jin Wei & Xiaobo Zhang, 2011. "The Competitive Saving Motive: Evidence from Rising Sex Ratios and Savings Rates in China," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 119(3), pages 511-564.
    8. James Poterba & Todd Sinai, 2008. "Tax Expenditures for Owner-Occupied Housing: Deductions for Property Taxes and Mortgage Interest and the Exclusion of Imputed Rental Income," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 84-89, May.
    9. Flood, Robert P & Hodrick, Robert J, 1990. "On Testing for Speculative Bubbles," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 4(2), pages 85-101, Spring.
    10. Shiller Robert J., 2006. "Long-Term Perspectives on the Current Boom in Home Prices," The Economists' Voice, De Gruyter, vol. 3(4), pages 1-11, March.
    11. Karl E. Case & Robert J. Shiller, 2003. "Is There a Bubble in the Housing Market?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 34(2), pages 299-362.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • P22 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Prices
    • P25 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics
    • R10 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General Regional Economics - - - General
    • R21 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Household Analysis - - - Housing Demand
    • R31 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - Real Estate Markets, Spatial Production Analysis, and Firm Location - - - Housing Supply and Markets

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