China tightens controls on down payment financing for home buyers: Xinhua

FILE PHOTO: A Chinese national flag flutters outside the headquarters of the People's Bank of China, the Chinese central bank, in Beijing
FILE PHOTO: A Chinese national flag flutters outside the headquarters of the People's Bank of China, the Chinese central bank, in Beijing, April 3, 2014. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic/File Photo

November 3, 2017

By Yawen Chen and Kevin Yao

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese authorities have intensified efforts to curb illegal financing for mortgage down payments and asked banks to step up checks on home buyers’ income authenticity, the official Xinhua news agency said, amid a drive to rein in financial risks.

China’s housing market has been on a near two-year tear, giving the economy a major boost but stirring fears of a property bubble even as the authorities try to contain risks from a rapid build-up in debt.

While Beijing has introduced a flurry of measures to dampen housing speculation, including raising the down payment ratio in some cities, cases of savvy buyers skirting the rules have been reported by Chinese media.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MHURD) jointly issued the directive against illegal down payment financing, Xinhua reported on Friday.

They will also strictly prevent individual consumer loans from being misused in housing purchases, Xinhua said.

The head of the central bank warned in October that China’s household debt is rising too quickly, and some analysts suspect a recent burst of consumer loans points to the illicit use of loans for property investment.

Outstanding household consumer loans in both yuan and foreign currencies totaled 30.2 trillion yuan ($4.56 trillion) at the end of September, jumping 29.1 percent from a year earlier.

Intensified scrutiny should also be applied to internet financing companies and micro loan providers, Xinhua said.

While some analysts say the crackdown over illegal funds flowing into the property market is a continuation of the existing policy, a renewed, concerted effort by the three government entities suggest overheating has become an increasingly serious concern.

The report also said a joint working mechanism will be established to improve coordination among the three entities to ensure the most up-to-date housing sales and price data are available to banks, in order to effectively stem mortgage fraud.

Developers and real estate agents must regulate their payment process and report suspicious transactions, it added.

(Reporting by Yawen Chen and Kevin Yao; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)