Some Chinese property developers go to great lengths to attract buyers.
From accepting grain or garlic as partial payment to offering live pigs as an incentive to buyers, the unusual sales tactics underscore the dire state of China’s vast real estate industry. The slump in sales has accelerated since developer Evergrande defaulted on debt last year as the economy slowed.
Central China Management — a sister company of Central China Real Estate, the largest developer in the central province of Henan, said in a recent announcement that it would accept wheat deposits for homes in Minquan County.
The announcement was posted on the company’s official WeChat account this week. Buyers can use grain to compensate up to 160,000 yuan (nearly $24,000) of their down payment. New homes offered by the company sell for between $100,000 and $124,000, according to Leju Holdings, a real estate service provider.
Wheat isn’t the only pantry staple that’s part of the developer’s promotional campaign.
In another announcement last month, the company said it was willing to accept garlic as a down payment for a residential project in Qi County, Henan Province.
“On the occasion of the new garlic season, the company has made a firm decision for the benefit of garlic growers in Qi County,” the company said in a post on WeChat late last month. “We help farmers with love and make it easy for them to buy a house,” he added.
Henan Province is a major production center in China for wheat and garlic.
Central China Management did not respond to a request for comment and removed its wheat ad from WeChat on Wednesday. The campaign was widely reported in Chinese media and trending on social media.
“This is tangible evidence of weak housing demand,” a Weibo user said on Tuesday.
China’s property market is in a deep slump, hit by a slowing economy, tight Covid restrictions and a spreading debt crisis among developers. Property sales fell 31.5% from January to May, accelerating from the 21% decline recorded in the first four months of this year, official data showed last week.
A recent survey by China Real Estate Information, a private research firm, said sales for the country’s top 100 developers plummeted 59% in May from a year ago.
Authorities stepped up efforts to revive home sales by cutting mortgages rates and the relaxation of rules on real estate purchases.
Meanwhile, more and more developers are coming up with imaginative ways to boost sales.
Poly Real Estate, one of the top developers in the country, said it would give freebies to buyers a 100-kilogram (220-pound) pig if they buy a house in his residential project in Lianyungang City, eastern Jiangsu Province. The company even offered to have the pig slaughtered for customers.
“Buy a house and get a 200-kitten ‘Peppa’ pig. Get a good life in one stop”, read the announcement, posted on the firm’s WeChat account last week, using the popular British cartoon character to refer to pig.
A “Catty” is a traditional Chinese unit of weight and is equivalent to 500 grams. A pig of 200 cats is worth about 1,630 yuan ($242), according to the latest government pricing data. Homes in the project cost between $184,000 and $260,000, according to data from Leju.
Poly Real Estate did not respond to a request for comment.
Pork is the main meat in China, and the country produces and consumes the most pork in the world.
Corrected: An earlier version of this story incorrectly attributed wheat and garlic ad campaigns to an affiliate company.