Ping An Insurance (Group) Co., China’s second-largest insurer, started a service financing down payments for potential homebuyers as more Chinese cities ease purchase restrictions to bolster sales amid tight credit.

Ping An’s real estate e-commerce unit is offering a loan service to buyers of 121 residential projects by Shimao Group and Greenland Group at interest rates as low as zero, the Shenzhen-based insurer said in an e-mailed statement. The money will be raised from online investors through Ping An’s peer-to- peer lending website, the company said.

Chinese cities are relaxing home-purchase limits after housing sales plunged 10.5 percent in the first seven months of the year amid tight bank credit. While sales may improve in September as more people become eligible to buy, homebuilders still face low-client interest, Centaline Group, parent of China’s biggest property agency, said in an Aug. 29 report.

“It will help with sales, but not much,” Johnson Hu, a Hong Kong-based property analyst at CIMB Securities Research, said by phone. “This suits the needs of some highly leveraged people, or those who don’t have money on hand, but still want to buy. They are after all a minority.”

While the cost of funding for the service is about 10 percent, homebuyers may reduce their interest payments to zero, with payments subsidized by developers and the Ping An e- commerce unit if they pass risk assessments, according to the insurer.

The loans, if without collateral, are capped at 300,000 yuan ($48,849) and can be for as long as three years, according to, the unit’s website. Homebuyers can borrow as much as an equivalent of 70 percent of the collateral’s net value for a maximum of one year, according to the website.

To stem the decline in home sales, 29 of the 46 Chinese cities that imposed limits on home ownership since 2010 to snuff out property flippers have relaxed or scrapped restrictions on the number of apartments one can buy as of Aug. 12. The nation’s biggest lenders have also cut interest rates on first mortgages in Beijing and Shanghai.

Topics China