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No new home policies in sight

SHANGHAI is not working, nor does it have any intention to do so, on any new policies to further boost the sluggish housing market, the city government said yesterday, denying earlier media speculation of such talk.

Chen Qiwei, a spokesman for the local municipality's information office, shot down speculation that the city might consider plans to refund individual income tax to home buyers or offer a "blue-stamp" hukou, or residence permits, to those who buy houses, which were introduced in the city earlier to boost home sales.

"Favorable policies introduced by both the central and local governments (including favorable loan policies and tax and fee cuts) since the end of October have been taking effect gradually and getting a warm response from the market," Chen said.

House transactions have been picking up in the city since October, statistics released by the city's real estate trading center have shown.

The volume of new homes, excluding those designated for relocated residents, rose by 9 percent, 48 percent and 82 percent in October, November and last month, respectively, compared to September figure.

The volume of second-hand houses, meanwhile, jumped 4 percent, 74 percent and 94 percent during the three months compared to September.

The local government's official statement, however, has damped expectations from some industry experts who have been calling for more forceful measures to revive the market.

The individual income tax rebate policy instituted between June 1998 and May 2003 proved to be efficient in boosting home purchases.


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