In today’s ultracompetitive U.S. housing market, it’s not uncommon for sought-after properties to be sold far above their initial asking price, often with buyers waiving inspections. For those frustrated by the housing hunt, it feels like signing a deed requires paying an arm and a leg. In mainland China, however, some new homebuyers are instead paying with wheat.
That’s the premise behind a recent promotion initiated by Central China Real Estate. In an effort to entice buyers in rural areas of Henan Province, the firm is running a limited-time “swap wheat for house” promotion meant to reduce the financial burden of buying in what’s become something of a depressed Chinese real estate market.
According to the terms of the offer, buyers can knock off 2 yuan from their down payment for every catty (a Chinese measurement equalling about 500 grams) of wheat they bring in. For those farmers with a lot of grain to spare, they can potentially save up to 160,000 yuan (about $23,900) on the down payment for their home. That’s a significant dent in the overall list price of Central China Real Estate’s properties for sale in Henan, which range from 600,000 to 900,000 yuan.
Though it may seem uniquely unprecedented, it’s not even the first time in 2022 that Central China Real Estate has accepted crops in lieu of traditional currency. This promotion followed closely after a period where the firm accepted garlic as a form of down payment, to the tune of 5 yuan saved per catty delivered. Over the course of 16 days, 30 total transactions brought in 860,000 catties (516 metric tons) of garlic.
The existence of a “swap wheat for house” deal speaks to the convergence of two major economic trends in China. According to Reuters, Chinese wheat prices surged to $477 per metric ton earlier in June, a record high that was 30% above the price wheat fetched at the same point in 2021.
Simultaneously, property sales in China are down, owing in part to the country’s tight COVID-19 restrictions and broader concerns about an economic slowdown. Chinese cities have introduced various measures to try and entice potential buyers, and property developers frequently offer deal sweeteners ranging from free parking to post-sale renovations.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest