China’s Real Estate Crisis Explained In Two Charts


Evergrande – once China’s largest real estate developer – was forced to liquidate on January 28th. It was yet another strike against the country’s now flailing real estate market, adding to a growing list of China’s economic worries.

In the charts below, Visual Capitalist’s Nick Routley shows two annual metrics related to China’s real estate crisis from 2003 to 2023. The first looks at apartment and commercial property sales using Bureau of Statistics data from Bloomberg, and the second examines new housing starts using data from the World Bank.

Things to Know About China’s Property Slump

Property sales by value in China climbed pretty steadily from less than ¥1 trillion RMB in 2003 to over ¥15 trillion in 2021, but have since dropped to under ¥12 trillion in 2023.

This was the case across both residential and commercial sales. In China’s residential market specifically, new home sales dropped 6% in 2023, with secondhand home prices declining in major cities.

And on the development side, new residential developments have fallen 58% from 1,515 million m² in 2019 to 637 million m² in 2023.

Year New Residential Building Developments
(million sq meters)
2023 637.4
2022 817.3
2021 1,350.2
2020 1,473.4
2019 1,514.5
2018 1,385.4
2017 1,160.9
2016 1,047.8
2015 970.8
2014 1,146.4
2013 1,318.5
2012 1,199.1
2011 1,349.4
2010 1,147.2
2009 784.9
2008 695.4
2007 662.3
2006 531.8
2005 446.5
2004 390.0
2003 352.4
2002 276.5

Here are a few more things to know about the ongoing real estate crisis in China:

  • Developer Defaults: Real estate firms faced $125 billion in bond defaults between 2020 and 2023.

  • Economic Impact: The property sector’s slump has dragged down China’s economy, leading to layoffs and financial instability.

  • Getting Creative: Municipalities, many of which rely on land sales as a key source of income, have been introducing “old-for-new” support measures meant to stimulate new home purchases.

Experts predict a prolonged downturn, with many people souring on Chinese investments, but exactly how things will develop after Evergrande’s collapse is unclear.

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