The number of properties in China that were foreclosed upon reached a record high in 2023 as the country’s debt-laden real estate sector continues to inhibit China’s economic recovery, according to Reuters.

The total number of property foreclosures, which includes commercial, residential and industrial properties as well as land, garages and parking spaces, added up to 796,000, which was up 36.7% year-over-year, according to Reuters. China’s economy grew at a rate of 5.2% in 2023, below the trend of over 6% that was common before the COVID-19 pandemic, as indicators like consumer confidence and disposable income were low and the real estate sector, which served as a boon to the economy for many years, struggles with debts and threats of default.

China had a total of 389,000 homes foreclosed on in 2023, a 43% increase from the previous year, with around 99,000 of those homes being sold at auction, adding up to the equivalent of $20.84 billion, according to Reuters. The high number of foreclosures was coupled with a decline in home prices, leading to the worst drop in almost nine years.

The total number of foreclosures has been rising in China since 2020, when the country’s recent economic issues first began following strict lockdown procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has continued to rise since, according to Reuters. The Chinese cities of Chongqing and Chengdu had the greatest number of home foreclosures in 2023.

Companies that are responsible for around 40% of Chinese homes have defaulted on their debt since 2021, with major Chinese developers Evergrande and Country Garden holding huge debts and threatening defaults, as well. One of China’s top wealth management firms, Zhongzhi Enterprise Group, declared bankruptcy in January due to the losses incurred from its involvement in the real estate market.

Foreign investors have increasingly pulled capital from China in 2023, with December seeing a $3.8 billion outflow, the third worst in the country’s history. The Institute of International Finance estimates that around $65 billion will be pulled from the country’s economy in 2024.

Will Kessler on January 22, 2024

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