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Housing prices in major cities drop in March for 4th month

HOME prices declined in March compared to a year earlier in 70 Chinese cities as they extended losses for a fourth consecutive month, the country's top economic planner said yesterday.

Prices in 70 medium and large cities fell 1.3 percent year on year last month, the National Development and Reform Commission said on its Website. Prices dropped 1.2 percent in February, 0.9 percent in January and 0.4 percent in December.

Around the country, prices of new and second-hand homes dropped an average of 1.9 percent and 0.4 percent on an annual basis respectively, while on a month-on-month basis, they edged up 0.1 percent and 0.3 percent, according to the NDRC.

Shanghai's housing prices fell 2 percent last month from a year ago while they gained 0.4 percent from a month earlier, according to the NDRC's online report. The prices of new apartments slipped 2.7 percent year on year but recorded no change from February. The second-hand home prices withdrew 1.5 percent on an annual basis but were 0.8 percent higher than the previous month.

The prices of new homes in 21 cities tracked by the NDRC declined from a month earlier and over the same period, while 35 cities posted mild gains. Meanwhile, in the used-home sector, prices in 18 cities dropped while they gained in 39 cities, it said.

The National Bureau of Statistics also said yesterday on its Website that 448 billion yuan (US$65.6 billion) was invested in real estate in the first quarter, a year-on-year growth of 4.1 percent. Investment in new houses, excluding those designated for relocation uses, rose 3.2 percent from a year earlier to 342.2 billion yuan.

A total of 201 million square meters of units started construction between January and March, a year-on-year drop of 16.2 percent. In the same period, 99.22 million square meters of properties were completed, a 26.3-percent rise from a year ago.


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