Hong Kong: “Planning to buy a house ? Can we tempt you with the offer of a young bride – and a dowry as well?”
That’s the bizarre sales pitch of a Beijing-based property developer who is struggling to combat a severe market slump in China that has seen home sales and prices plunge.
The company, Jin Tai Cheng, is luring potential buyers at its upmarket ‘Ecological Bay’ villa project with an invitation to date its salesgirls, whose photographs and vital statistics are put up on the company website. If the speed-dating service leads to marriage before May 30, the company will even offer a ‘dowry’ in the form of a 60,000 yuan (about $8,000) discount on the villa. The ‘package deal’, however, comes with a caveat: The couple should not divorce within a year!
The desperate sales pitch, evidently made in tie-up with a marriage broking service, is merely the latest manifestation of the grim outlook for China’s real estate market.
“Many potential buyers are postponing plans to buy because of the uncertain economic outlook,” says Li Jingguo, director of research at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), a leading government thinktank.
CASS professor Cao Jianhai says average urban residential property prices will likely fall 40-50% over the next two years.
The Chinese government has unveiled a 4 trillion yuan ($585 billion) stimulus package, but the real estate market has shown no sign of a recovery so far, notes Ren Zhiqiang, president of the Huayuan group.
But China’s developers seem to have taken it upon themselves to stimulate the market by commodifying women and offering them as part of a ‘free wife and dowry’ package deal.