Meeting a real estate broker who isn’t optimistic about the market is about as rare as finding cheerful economist, but it seems that even some of China’s biggest property agencies are bracing for a downturn by cutting headcount.
According to a report this week in Reuters, Centaline Property, a Hong Kong-based agency which has approximately 470 offices in Shanghai is reporting a hiring freeze while it review the viability of some of its locations.
In comments to Reuters Clement Luk, the company’s chief executive for eastern China made it clear that the market has entered into a downturn. “April’s transactions in Shanghai were around 20 percent lower than March; looking at the momentum now, April may not be the bottom yet, May and June could still be on a downtrend,” the representative of the Hong Kong-based firm said.
A separate report in the National Business News also made note of Centaline’s cutbacks and added that another brokerage house, Shanghai Deovolente Realty is letting go up to ten percent of its nonsales workforce and cancelling plans for new branches.
Recent data from an independent information provider seems to confirm Centaline’s view of the Shanghai market.
In a report released this week Shanghai Uwin Real Estate Information Services said that purchases of new homes, excluding government-funded affordable housing, dipped 0.7 percent last week in the eastern China metropolis (compared to the previous week) to 125,100 square meters.
Prices were also down sliding 4.1 percent on a week to week basis to an average RMB 26,777 across China’s commercial capital.