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China property crisis: Why homeowners stopped paying their mortgages

The Annapurna Express

The Annapurna Express

China property crisis: Why homeowners stopped paying their mortgages

Hundreds of them stopped paying their mortgages – a radical step for China, where dissent is not tolerated

"Construction stops, mortgage stops. Deliver homes and get repaid!"

That was one of the chants disgruntled apartment buyers in China used at a protest in June. But their ire over unfinished homes didn't stop at signs and chants.

Hundreds of them stopped paying their mortgages – a radical step for China, where dissent is not tolerated, BBC reported.

A young couple who moved to Zhengzhou in central China told the BBC that after receiving the down payment last year, the developer withdrew from the project and construction stalled.

"I have imagined countless times the joy of living in a new home, but now it all feels ridiculous," the woman, who did not wish to be named, said.

A woman in her late 20s who also bought a home in Zhengzhou told the BBC that she too is ready to stop paying her mortgage: "After the project is fully resumed, I'll continue paying."

Many of them can pay but are choosing not to, unlike the US subprime mortgage crisis in 2007 when money was lent to high-risk borrowers who then defaulted, according to BBC.

They have purchased homes in roughly 320 projects around the country, according to a crowd-sourced estimate on Github where homeowners have been posting about their decision. But it's unclear how many actually stopped paying. 

The boycotted loans could total $145bn (£120bn), S&P Global ratings estimates. Other analysts say it could be even higher.

The revolt has rattled authorities, focusing attention on a market already under pressure from a slowing economy and a serious cash crunch.

More alarmingly, it has signalled a lack of confidence in one of the main pillars of the world's second largest economy, BBC reported.

"Mortgage boycotts, driven by deteriorating sentiment toward property, are… a very serious threat to the financial position of the sector," think tank Oxford Economics said in a recent note.