Compelled by the deep recession in property market, real estate companies in China have now started accepting payments for homes in watermelons and other agricultural produce.
“Real estate developers in Chinese third-and fourth-tier cities have launched various promotional campaigns recently, including encouraging home buyers to pay part of their down payment with wheat and garlic, in a bid to attract farmers to purchase newly built homes to offload excess housing inventory.”
The publication quoted a developer in Nanjing who said it would allow home buyers to pay for their homes using watermelon at a rate of 20 yuan (Rs 236) per kilogram.
A representative of the company told Global Times that the bizarre promotional event was suspended after being ordered by the headquarters.
“We were told to delete all promotional posters on the social media platforms,” said the representative, adding that they may design other types of promotional activities.
A poster for the promotional event starting from June 28 to July 15, reads the property developer would allow home buyers to make a maximum payment of 5,000 kilograms of watermelon, valued at 100,000 yuan, noting the purpose of the promotion is to support local watermelon farmers.
The property market was one of the few cherished destinations for household savings. The developers and homebuyers were also willing to take loans from the banks but these good days for China ended last year.
The household debt touched over USD 10 trillion. And around 27 per cent of bank loans in China are tied to real estate, reported a think tank, Policy Research Group (POREG).
China has been stepping up efforts to salvage the residential property market as consumer and business confidence has been battered by lockdowns.
From urging banks to lend more, to easing mortgage costs, and partially relaxing rules on owning multiple properties, the measures also come in response to a downturn in the property sector that has seen more than a dozen developer defaults and falling home prices.
The real-estate industry was known to be the biggest job creator in China but has now been termed as “Lehman moment”, in comparison to the 2008 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, which was a trigger for the global financial crisis.