- China's property crisis may take up to a decade to resolve, economist Hao Hong told CNBC.
- Hong, a prominent economist, said there are just too many empty homes in China.
- Hong's WeChat and Weibo social media accounts were suspended last year after a series of bearish posts on China's economy.
China's property crisis may take up to a decade to resolve, a prominent economist said on Tuesday.
"Fixing the property sector may be a multi-year or even a decade's work in front of us. Reason being, we built way too many housing for Chinese people," Hao Hong, the chief economist of Grow Investment, told CNBC on Tuesday.
"And also the Chinese urbanization process, which has been progressing very fast in the past 10 years, is coming to a halt," said Hong.
Hong's comments are significant as he's known for his accurate calls on China's stock markets.
His views on the beleaguered Chinese property market also echo views from He Keng, a former top China official, who said over the weekend there could be enough vacant homes in China to house up to 3 billion people — that's nearly ten times the population of the US.
The experts' comments came amid a property crisis in China that many investors fear would spill into the broader economy and even beyond its borders.
As it is, Hui Ka Yan, the billionaire founder and chairman of debt-laden property developer China Evergrande, has been put under police surveillance, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed sources with knowledge of the matter.
China's economy is struggling to stage a convincing recovery post-COVID, with second-quarter GDP growth missing expectations and youth unemployment hitting a record high. The property sector, along with related industries, contributes as much as 30% to the country's GDP.
And experts told Insider that even though China is trying to revive its property sector by stimulating consumer demand, consumers are unlikely to be clamoring for new apartments amid record-high youth unemployment rate and slower economic growth.
"There's not much impact so far," Hong told Insider on Wednesday, referring to Beijing's stimulus measures.
Investment in property in China fell about 19% in August from a year ago — marking its 18th straight month of decline, according to Reuters calculations based on official data released on September 15.
Still, there may be an upside ahead for China's economy once the property market's problems are resolved, Hong told CNBC.
"Once people reset their expectations, and also the economy restructures to regrow from other industries rather than relying mostly on the property sector for growth, then we will actually have a better, much healthier Chinese economy than before," he told the network.
—Hao HONG 洪灝, CFA (@HAOHONG_CFA) September 26, 2023
Hong's WeChat and Twitter-like Weibo social media platforms were suspended in late April last year following a series of bearish commentaries as China's stock market floundered. It was unclear which of Hong's posts triggered the suspension, but he had made critical remarks about China's on-off pandemic lockdowns and slowing growth at the time, per Nikkei. Other analysts and economists were also similarly targeted.
A few days later, he left his job as the head of research at the state-owned Bank of Communications International. The brokerage said at the time that he had resigned due to "personal reasons." He then resurfaced at Grow Investment Group, a Shanghai-based investment firm, last September.
Another expert — Li Daokui, a former People's Bank of China adviser — told Bloomberg on Tuesday that China's property market, when it recovers, would return as an important driver of the country's growth. However, he said the sector's impact influence on the overall economy would be "much smaller."
Evergrande did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider.