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China Real Estate Bubble a Myth

By Clay Fisher

The sheer volume of misinformation and crowd-think surrounding China's real estate market is staggering. It seems the entire U.S. media has convinced itself a bubble exists, yet when we read what's printed, there's very little in the way of facts provided. Yet few controversies can be as important to Wall Street.

China's real estate market is the backbone of its domestic economy. The sector's strong demand of late has helped China become the backbone of the world's economic recovery. Any meaningful "stumble" by China's real estate market could have ominous affects on the developed world's recovery.

Recently I read an article proposing the bubble theory and attempting to claim that because the ratio of real estate prices to incomes in Beijing was 27-1, Beijing real estate was so overvalued that if in Manhattan, the average price of an apartment would be $3.4 million. The notion is simply ridiculous and uses clear apples-to-oranges comparisons that lack an understanding of the differences between Beijing and Manhattan.

The only way this comparison becomes fair is if Manhattan residents paid a 10% income tax rate (and no property taxes) while seeing the real purchasing power of their incomes rise overnight by at least 50%. I expect to see pigs fly in Manhattan first.

Comparing real estate in Beijing to Manhattan is not difficult. If you believe what you read in the press, the results will surprise you. The only fair method for comparing relative valuation and affordability is to compare the ratio of after-tax incomes for an average couple to the price of the average real estate in each city, and then attempt to adjust for the real purchasing power of each couple's incomes. Here we go.

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