Sunac Suspends Land Buying in China Auctions as Prices Surge

  • Developer stops attending auctions amid risks, chairman says
  • Sunac China has been focusing on acquisitions for land bank

Homebuilder Sunac China Holdings Ltd. has temporarily stopped buying land from government auctions in China because prices surged amid a housing rebound, Chairman Sun Hongbin said.

“We’ve suspended all bidding recently and didn’t even sign up” for auctions by local governments, Sun said at a briefing in Hefei of eastern Anhui province on Tuesday. “I feel the risk is too high,” he said without giving a time frame for the suspension, according to a transcript provided by the company. The comments were reported earlier by Caixin.

Land costs in some of the biggest cities have surged, prompting developers to engage in heated competition to win auctions. City officials in Suzhou, a 30-minute train ride from Shanghai, last month terminated some land auctions after bidding reached levels more than double initial asking prices. The cost of buying land in prime markets is now higher than what an average home sells for, while in second-tier cities it’s almost half, according to Deutsche Bank AG analysts led by Tony Tsang.

Sunac, already among China’s most active real estate buyers this year, is in talks to acquire more land from other developers as prices at auctions have risen to “absurd” levels, Sun said in an interview last month.

New-home prices excluding government-subsidized housing climbed in 60 cities in May, down from 65 in April, among the 70 tracked by the government, after rapid price gains fueled by ample liquidity prompted local authorities in Shanghai and Shenzhen to tighten buying criteria. 

“The market in the second half for sure won’t be as good as the first half, but it won’t be too bad,” Sun said in Hefei. “The monetary policy is still there, and the abundant liquidity is there.”

— With assistance by Dingmin Zhang

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