China’s Once-Sizzling Property Market Has Started to Cool

Evergrande did not respond to emails asking for comment, and phone numbers listed on its website were disconnected.

People across the country are protesting about quality problems and unfulfilled promises.

Louis Lee, a 38-year-old administrator at a real estate firm, bought an apartment in 2019 at the “Moon on the Sea” complex by Vanke, one of the country’s largest property developers. She was told that the complex in Guangzhou would eventually include a shopping mall with grocery stores and an international school — a major selling point for Ms. Lee, who has two young children.

But more than a year after she moved in, the school building and mall remain empty. Residents said Vanke told them there was not enough interest from businesses to fill the mall, and an application for the school was tied up in government bureaucracy.

The local district challenged this version of events. It told residents that Vanke hadn’t paid the rent for the land in recent years because of a financial dispute with the village, which owned the land. After the matter was taken to court, Vanke eventually paid, but there are currently no plans for an international school.

In April, enraged homeowners hung a banner covering the high-rise’s top 10 floors that read “Vanke false advertising,” based on residents’ photos. Other banners warned people that buying a Vanke home would “ruin their lives.” When police arrived to tell the homeowners to remove the banners, protesters refused and clashed with officers. Vanke did not respond to emails asking for comment.

Ms. Lee regrets buying the property. She says the financial problems facing developers are leading to quality issues.

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