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Chinese home buyers remain fevered

NEW home purchases in China surged at a faster pace in the first nine months of this year amid robust sentiment in September, according to data released today by the National Bureau of Statistics.

New residential properties worth 6.86 trillion yuan (US$1.02 trillion), excluding government-subsidized affordable housing, were sold around the country between January and September, a year-on-year increase of 43.2 percent. The pace accelerated from a 40.1 percent growth in the first eight months.

During the first three quarters, 930.5 million square meters of new houses were sold, a rise of 27.1 percent from the same period a year earlier. That also picked up from the 25.6 percent gain recorded during the January-August period, according to the bureau.

"Increases in new home supply, coupled with continuously upbeat momentum in the land auction market, jointly boosted sales performance in September," said Lu Wenxi, a senior manager of research at Shanghai Centaline Property Consultants Co.

In September alone, more than 155 million square meters of new homes were sold in China, an annual increase of 35 percent and also a monthly record, Centaline research showed. By value, new residential properties worth 1.15 trillion yuan were sold last month, a year-over-year surge of 61 percent.

However, the overall market will very likely retreat in the last quarter of this year since signs of cooling down already emerged in some of the cities even before further tightening measures to curb housing speculation were rolled out by governments starting late September, Centaline predicted.

Among some 20 cities where a new batch of rein-in policies -- from home purchase restrictions to higher down payment requirement -- have been introduced around the National Day holiday period, nearly half of them have registered a month-over-month decline in transaction volume last month, indicating weakening sentiment among home buyers following extremely strong sales in the previous few months.

In Shanghai, for instance, the area of new homes sold dropped more than 44 percent last month from August to 1.03 million square meters, the lowest figure since June, Shanghai Uwin Real Estate Information Services Co said in an earlier report.

Investment in all types of property, meanwhile, rose 5.8 percent in the first nine months of this year, 0.4 percentage points faster than in the first eight months, the bureau's data showed.


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