We have been reading everyday about the real estate crisis and the bubble burst. But what does it mean to the ordinary Chinese citizen? This is the account of a true behind-the-scenes story. 

Li, from Hunan, had just bought an apartment for his future family. His girlfriend was pregnant, and a wedding plan is on schedule. 

By now, he should be married and a father. But the 34-year-old man doesn’t have a wife, a child, or a home. What’s left for him is a 20-year mortgage.

All because the building of his house in Hunan, China, was stopped. And it’s all it takes for his fiancee’s parents to reject the wedding. 

 “They said an unfinished apartment isn’t a home, so she got an abortion and broke up with me.” 

“The abortion took away all my faith. My whole world collapsed … I was in extreme despair, but there was nothing I could do.”

Though depressed, he was not surprised with their actions.

He told Channel NewsAsia:

“Any Chinese man can tell you: If you don’t have your own property, it’d be nearly impossible to find a wife — unless your ancestors lend you their powers from above.” 

“(If you’re) a common man like me … you must, at the very least, have an apartment. Otherwise, no one will be willing to marry you. Even if someone’s willing, do you dare to marry her? Won’t you feel it’s not fair to her?”

Li’s unfinished house has deep meaning behind it. It shows how important homes are to the Chinese. For them, having a home is a part of building a family.

It shows how a mother-in-law economy works in a country where there are 35 million more men than women. Due to competition for brides, many in-laws won’t let their daughters marry a man without a home.

And it also shows the dark side behind the recent crash of China’s home market. Developers who struggled with liquidity issue stop building, leaving millions of Chinese people in quagmire. 

After 30 years of constant development, the current economic crisis is unprecedented for Chinese millennials.

Today, ​​more than 300 homeowners’ groups in 91 cities with thousands of people have joined in a mortgage strike. Li would be just one among many people going through tragedy. 

There’s still no sign of any relief. 

A steady mortgage boycott and a slowing economy made people less likely to buy a home in September. That’s according to a survey by China Index Academy (CIA), one of the country’s largest independent real estate research firms.

Home prices, sales, and investments all went down in August, which put more pressure on the world’s second-largest economy, which barely grew in the second quarter.

Sporadic COVID lockdowns with no end in sight badly hurt Chinese consumer confidence. At the same time, job losses and slow economic growth have made people spend less, sparking a stronger sense of “lying flat”, “let it rot” trends.

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