China economy: will hot property market threaten post-pandemic rebound?

China economy: will hot property market threaten post-pandemic rebound?

With Beijing concerned that the sector is overheating, heavily indebted developers like Evergrande face intense scrutiny

The shuttle bus from central Shanghai to Venice takes almost two hours. For investors like Wang Guili, that’s close enough to seek out a potential bargain.

At Evergrande Venice, named for the city which inspired it and the developer that built it, apartments in high-rise buildings that look out over the Yellow Sea can be found for as little as a fifth of the prices in her Shanghai neighbourhood.

“Very few residential projects allow me to buy a home without taking a mortgage,” says Ms Wang, a retired accountant. “Evergrande Venice is one of them.”

The coastal project, which has been taking shape for more than decade, embodies the meteoric ambitions of China’s biggest property developer — a company that has acquired the confidence to take on vast debts of over $120bn — more than double its equity at the end of last year — and, on occasion, challenge nature itself.