A Chinese national flag flutters at a construction site for a new residence complex in Beijing, in this November 4, 2013 file photo.


China’s once buoyant property market is facing some rough sailing. In fact, according to one tycoon – Soho China Ltd’s chief Pan Shiyi — the real estate market is looking more like the Titanic headed in the direction of an iceberg.

Mr. Pan, the co-founder and chairman of Soho China Ltd., is taking a very bearish view on the housing market, which has struggled this year. In the first four months of the year, home sales were down 9.9% from the same period a year ago in value terms, official data shows. New construction starts — as calculated by area — were down almost 25% year over year in the same period.

As if that’s not bad enough, demand is also weakening in an expanding number of cities as banks tighten mortgage lending and sales are dampened by widespread expectations of price cuts.

“I think China’s property market is like the Titanic and it will soon hit an iceberg in front of it,” Mr. Pan told a financial forum on Friday, according to the China Business News.

“After hitting the iceberg, the risks will not only be in the real estate sector. The bigger risk will be in the financial sector,” he added.

He said serious problems lie with financial products like trust and wealth management products, as well as entrusted loans that charge higher interest rates than banks and are key financing vehicles for the property sector.

“When housing prices fall 20% to 30%, these problems will be all exposed,” he was quoted as saying.

Soho China declined to comment about Mr. Pan’s remarks. But in a post on his verified Weibo account Monday, Mr. Pan said  that during the forum’s question and answer session, he had first asked whether there were any journalists present before replying to a question about the housing market. Only upon being told there were no reporters present, he said, did he proceed to answer.

“I didn’t expect there are countless reporters hiding [in the audience],” he said.

Soho has been putting at least some of its money where Mr. Pan’s mouth is – that is, by taking it out of the local property market.

In February, Soho China, run by Mr. Pan and his wife Zhang Xin, announced plans to sell all of their interest in Soho Hailun Plaza and Soho Jing’an Plaza in Shanghai for about 5.23 billion yuan ($853 million) to Financial Street Holdings, a Shenzhen-listed property developer…..

Though Mr. Pan didn’t comment on the government’s moves to soften property curbs, he did say he believes many forces — including plans for a nationwide property registry, an expanded use of  the property tax and more land for development as a result of rural land reform – will help drive the market lower.

“I am not optimistic about China’s property prices,” he said.

If a property specialist like Mr. Pan thinks the market is close to a Titantic moment, perhaps it’s a good idea for buyers to stay close to the life boats.

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–Grace Zhu. Follow her on Twitter at @GraceWSJ.