The deep recession in China’s property market has forced real estate companies to launch a bizarre marketing strategy to lure home buyers.

Chinese property developers have started accepting payments for houses made from watermelons and other agricultural products.

“Real estate developers in China’s third- and fourth-tier cities have recently launched various promotional campaigns, including encouraging home buyers to pay part of their down payment with wheat and garlic, in an attempt to induce farmers to buy newly built homes to offload excess housing inventory,” the Global Times reported.

A Nanjing developer said it would allow home buyers to pay for their homes using watermelon at a rate of 20 yuan per kilogram, according to Global Times.

The outlet quoting a company representative said the bizarre promotional event was suspended after being ordered by headquarters.

“We were told to remove all promotional posters on social media platforms,” the representative said, noting that they may design other types of promotional activities.

A poster for the promotional event from June 28 to July 15 said the property developer would allow home buyers to make a maximum payment of 5,000 kilograms of watermelon, worth 100,000 yuan, noting that the purpose of the promotion is to support local watermelon growers.

The real estate market was one of the few favored destinations for household savings. Developers and home buyers were also willing to take loans from banks, but those good days for China ended last year.

Household debt has reached over $10 trillion. And about 27% of bank loans in China are related to real estate, reported a think tank, Policy Research Group (POREG).

This industry was known to be the biggest job creator in China, but it is now being called the “Lehman moment”, in relation to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in 2008, which triggered the global financial crisis. Especially since the number of empty homes has crossed the 65 million mark (90 million according to some estimates) – enough to house the population of France, and raises the specter of a global economy on crutches.

China’s housing market is now seen as “a national threat” as prices soar, along with buildings, according to Think Tank citing The New York Times.

Developers borrowed money in the form of onshore and offshore bonds, trust loans and wealth management products, in addition to bank loans. Thus, lenders range from institutions to the general public, both at home and abroad.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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