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May 19, 2017

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Home prices stabilize in 15 cities

HOME prices in China’s 15 first and key second-tier cities stabilized in April as restraint measures to curb speculation continued to bite, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday.

All 15 cities, where the strictest tightening measures have been imposed, posted slower year-on-year growth in new home prices last month compared with March. Growth decelerated by 0.7-7.4 percentage points last month, the bureau’s data showed.

On a month-on-month basis, six cities saw a rise in new home prices, down from nine cities in March.

“New home prices in the country’s four first-tier cities rose at a slower pace for seven straight months while those in second-tier cities climbed at a slower rate for five consecutive months, with various rein-in measures imposed in different cities taking effect,” said Liu Jianwei, a senior statistician at the bureau, which monitors prices in new and pre-occupied home markets in 70 major cities.

Thirty of the 70 cities recorded slower year-on-year growth in new home prices in April, up from six in March. On a monthly basis, 23 cities posted slower price rise, up 13 from March, the bureau said.

In Shanghai, new home prices fell 0.2 percent in April from a month earlier, compared with a 0.1 percent retreat in March.

In Beijing and Guangzhou, prices of new houses climbed by 0.2 percent and 1.4 percent respectively, slower from the 0.4 percent and 2.5 percent increases recorded a month earlier. Shenzhen, however, saw new home price unchanged last month, compared with a 0.3 percent drop in March.

Property sales recorded strong growth in 2016 with an annual gain of 22.5 percent, thanks to two years of policy easing, starting with relaxation of purchase curbs in 2014 and fueled by pro-growth policies, including interest-rate cuts.

Since October last year, the Chinese government has implemented a slew of measures to cool fast growth in housing prices, including curbs on home purchases and higher minimum down payment.

The property market, however, picked up its pace in February this year after price gains slowed in previous months, which has led to the biggest wave of tightening of home purchases and lending rules since mid-March.

Dozens of Chinese cities have implemented tougher cooling measures to limit price gains since mid-March, following Beijing’s unprecedented harsh curbs that lifted the down payment ratio for second homes to 60 percent.

Meanwhile, China’s central bank has also urged banks to strengthen mortgage risk management and crack down on market irregularities such as fake divorces to skirt high down payment requirements.

Given the tougher cooling measures, analysts predicted that home prices will continue to stabilize in coming months and there will be more intensified policies due to price rises in some third-tier cities in April.

“Government cooling measures since the fourth quarter of last year have gradually taken effect,” said Yan Yuejin, senior researcher with E-house China R&D Institute.

He noted that more measures are needed to cope with recent price rallies in some third-tier cities.

Zhang Dawei, a senior analyst with Centaline Property, also noticed the trend in third-tier cities.

For example, Tangshan in Hebei Province led the month-on-month price rise for new houses among the 70 cities, Zhang said.


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