Watermelons for houses: Developers let Chinese farmers pay for homes with watermelons

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jul 04 2022 08:02 AM

Customers check out the watermelons at a market in Hefei, central China's Anhui province. Agence France-Presse file photo
Customers check out the watermelons at a market in Hefei, central China's Anhui province. Agence France-Presse file photo

BEIJING, China - Struggling developers in China have started taking payment for homes in watermelons, peaches and other agricultural produce, state media reported Sunday, as they attempt to lure buyers deterred by a property market slump.

China's housing market has been hit by a slowing economy and debt crisis precipitated by a government ban on builders taking deposits before construction begins on a project.

One developer in the eastern city of Nanjing said it would accept truckloads of watermelons worth up to 100,000 yuan as down payment from local farmers, state-run China News Weekly reported.

In the nearby small town of Wuxi, another developer was taking peaches as payment, the magazine said.

Homebuyers in Qi county, a major garlic-producing region in central China's Henan province, can exchange their produce at three times the market price to settle part of their down payment.

Accepting crops at inflated prices has allowed developers to offer steeper discounts on homes than permitted by local governments while tapping into an underserved market.

"On the occasion of the new garlic season, the company has made a resolute decision to benefit garlic farmers in Qi county," homebuilder Central China Management said on social media in late May.

"We are helping farmers with love, and making it easier for them to buy homes."

About 30 properties had been sold since the garlic campaign was launched, it added.

Home sales in China measured by floor area have slid for 11 consecutive months and were down 31.5 percent in May compared to the same month last year, official data shows.

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