In today’s ultra-competitive U.S. real estate market, it’s not uncommon for sought-after properties to sell well above their original asking price, with buyers often foregoing inspections. For those frustrated with the housing hunt, it’s like signing a deed requires paying an arm and a leg. In mainland China, however, some new homebuyers are paying with wheat instead.
This is the premise of a recent promotion initiated by Central China Real Estate. In a bid to attract buyers to rural areas in Henan province, the company is holding a limited-time “exchange wheat for house” promotion to reduce the financial burden of purchasing in what has become a kind of depressed Chinese real estate market.
Under the terms of the offer, buyers can withdraw 2 yuan from their down payment for each catty (a Chinese measure equivalent to about 500 grams) of wheat they bring in. For farmers who have plenty of grain to spare, they can potentially save up to 160,000 yuan (about $23,900) on the down payment for their house. It’s a significant dent in the overall list price of Central China Real Estate properties for sale in Henan, which range from 600,000 to 900,000 yuan.
While this may seem unprecedented, it’s not even the first time in 2022 that Central China Real Estate has accepted crops instead of traditional currency. This promotion followed closely after a period when the company accepted garlic as a form of deposit, up to 5 yuan saved per catty delivered. Over the course of 16 days, a total of 30 transactions yielded 860,000 catties (516 metric tons) of garlic.
The existence of a “wheat-for-house” agreement testifies to the convergence of two major economic trends in China. According Reuters, Chinese wheat prices jumped to $477 per metric ton earlier in June, a record 30% above the wheat price reached at the same time in 2021.
At the same time, real estate sales in China are falling, in part due to the country’s strict restrictions against COVID-19 and wider concerns about an economic slowdown. Chinese cities have implemented various measures to try to attract potential buyers, and property developers frequently offer sweeteners ranging from free parking to aftermarket renovations.