Chinese specufestors turn to the dead


Cross-posted from Investing in Chinese Stocks.

With the government cracking down on property speculation, some house flippers are turning to tomb flipping, causing cities to begin tightening cemetery plot regulations.

Caixin: China Real Estate Restrictions Reach the Afterlife

The government in Suzhou has told local funeral parlors to turn away out-of-towners wanting to buy plots in the public cemeteries, according to a report in the official Suzhou Daily. A local official told the paper the step was necessary to ensure that local residents could spend their afterlife in Suzhou.

The restriction on out-of-town buyers — apparently a first in China — comes as dozens of cities in China in recent weeks have rolled out measures requiring bigger down payments on second-home purchases in a bid to curb soaring prices.

…Even with the ban, Suzhou won’t find cemetery plots cheap. Already, burial space in Suzhou costs more than double the average price of a similar amount of space in a second-hand house, about 50,000 yuan ($7.255) versus 23,000 yuan, according to, which provides property market data.


iFeng reports that cemetary plots have increase 1000 percent in the past 5 years.

比房价还凶:5年涨10倍 炒房者杀入墓地市场

“The past 5 years, Suzhou cemetery prices rose at least 10 times. In 2016, the average price in Suzhou cemeteries was about 30,000 yuan per square meter, the highest up to more than 100,000.” A local cemetery intermediary said. At the same time, they are facing resource constraints. “The price has been pushed up by speculators, more than half of the customers I’ve contacted are from Shanghai and Zhejiang, which exacerbated the difficulty of getting a tomb in Suzhou.”

Not only in Suzhou, in the country a number of large and medium cities, cemetery prices all the way up. Reporters survey found that the price of many cemeteries: an area of ​​about 1 square meters in Shanghai, the average price is 60,000 yuan, up to 300,000 yuan; in Tianjin, the minimum 10,000 yuan, up to 200,000 yuan; in Guangzhou, mostly 10,000 yuan to 120,000 yuan.

“In Beijing, Changping cemetery price is generally 30,000 yuan per square meter, the average price of six rings is 60,000 yuan, better ones more than 100,000.” A Beijing cemetery intermediary said cemetery prices are like home prices, thecloser to the city center, the higher the price.

Fushi Park is China’s largest funeral service provider, in Shanghai, Henan, Shandong, Liaoning, Anhui and other provinces have cemetery cemetery. Results show that in 2016 Fung Shou Park sold a total of 12,486 graves, the sale of a wide range of graves, the most expensive custom art tomb, the average price reached 338,000 yuan, the average price of finished art is also more than 100,000 yuan.

Hot city cemetery prices, prompting many people to buy the tombs. Hebei Sanhe Lingshan pagoda cemetery more than 50 kilometers from Beijing, the cemetery official said that the cemetery since 2013 began to sell, the current family of the deceased in Beijing accounted for 70 percent of the purchase. The average price of the tomb in the 50,000 yuan, according to the location of the tomb, the highest priced tombstone is 80,000 yuan, compared with Beijing has a price advantage.

Guangdong Province, Qingyuan City, Yi Yuan Cemetery less than two hours by car from the city of Guangzhou, cemetery has been sold nearly ten thousand cemetery plots, Guangzhou residents accounted for 70 percent of purchases. Cemetery plot price is only 20,000 to 20,000 yuan, much lower than the average price of more than 100,000 yuan in Guangzhou cemeteries.

In addition to regular demand, speculators and cemetery operators are driving up prices:


In addition to limited land resources and other reasons, some human factors is pushing the cemetery prices behind the “black hand”.

– Tombs. “Cemetery operators have a variety of methods to raise the tomb price, the most common is the use of approval policy strict situation, through the ‘cover plate reluctant to sell’ and other means to create a tight cemetery situation, take the opportunity to raise the cemetery price,” a Shanghai resident engaged in funeral industry said.

Some of the tombs of low-cost enterprises operating a large number of burial sites, but the development of slow, while selling side to sell. To a large operating cemetery, for example, the total planning area of ​​700 acres of cemetery, but seven or eight years only developed a third. And the average price of its tomb from 28,400 yuan in 2012 rose to 60,300 yuan in 2016, or more than 200 percent.

– Excessive. According to the Ministry of Civil Affairs issued on the implementation of the funeral management regulations in the interpretation of several specific issues, buried ashes of the single, double coffin burial covers an area of ​​not more than 1 square meters. However, the reporter found that in some places exceeded the grave is not uncommon, the price is often very high.

Putian in Fujian Putian Baoshan tomb, the reporter saw most of the tomb area is about two or three square meters, of which a row of graves and even twenty or thirty square meters. Chang’an District, Xi’an Fengqi Shannan District has recently been exposed to a total of 175 super-standard tombs, illegal sales of 151, of which an area of ​​about 25 square meters of the standard Tomb of the price of more than 900,000 yuan.

– Tomb Flipping. Industry insiders, although some places have clearly purchased the cemetery to real name system, but due to lax supervision, some enterprises and individuals to drill the policy of the loopholes fried tombs.

Reporters in Taobao, go to the network search found that some sellers transfer cemetery, the price ranges from 10,000 yuan to several hundred-thousand yuan. Go to the market a seller called “Qing Xiling near the existing three cemeteries need to transfer, certificate complete, can transfer.” Reporters dial the phone, the seller said a few years ago to buy three cemetery, investment used, “when the price of each cemetery in 9,000 yuan, and now a sold 60,000 yuan.”

Reporters survey found that some operating cemetery to get the low cost, selling high prices, resulting in profiteering. To Fushou Park, for example, in 2016 to achieve operating income of 1.268 billion yuan, 448 million yuan of profits, of which the cemetery service gross margin as high as 81%. Sanhe Lingshan pagoda cemetery parent company Fu Cheng shares (600965) 2016’s earnings show that the funeral industry gross profit of up to 84.84%.

About the author
David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal. He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.