Cities rein in home prices


BEIJING – More Chinese cities have seen month-on-month declines in the prices of both new and secondhand homes, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Saturday. 

The NBS said in a statement on its website that month-on-month price growth for new commercial homes was reported in 50 out of the NBS’s statistical pool of 70 major cities. That compared to 56 cities reporting month-on-month growth in April. 

New home prices declined from a month ago in nine cities and stood unchanged in 11 cities, while 27 cities posted smaller monthly price gains, said the NBS. 

As for resold housing units, 23 cities reported second-hand home price declines month-on-month in May, up from 16 in April. Secondhand home prices stayed unchanged in 11 major cities in May from April, according to the NBS. 

On a year-on-year basis, the prices of new commercial homes declined in three cities, including Hangzhou and Sanya, both of which were hot spots for real estate speculation in the past. Meanwhile, 36 cities saw lower year-on-year growth, up from 29 in April, said the NBS. 

Secondhand home prices dropped in four cities from one year ago, while 29 cities reported declines in year-on-year price growth from April. 

The NBS stopped releasing overall housing prices for 70 major cities in January, citing the fact that overall price figures for the cities failed to reflect regional differences. The NBS is also using a new surveying method to determine price changes. 

The government has adopted various measures to cool the property market and curb rising prices, including restricting residents in major cities from buying second or third homes, requiring higher down payments for mortgages and instituting new property taxes in the cities of Chongqing and Shanghai. 

But there has not been a significant drop in home prices. The latest central bank survey of urban bank depositors found that more than one-third of respondents anticipated home prices would remain stable in the second half of the year. 

The survey, which is carried out quarterly among 20,000 urban bank depositors in 50 major cities, said 25.9 percent of respondents believed prices would continue to rise, while only 18.9 percent expected a decline. 

Meanwhile, the survey showed that 74.3 percent of residents said housing prices in the second quarter were “too high to afford”, almost the same as during the first quarter. 

Experts and market observers said the Chinese property market is stagnant with home transactions remaining grim and no clear trend in prices. 

Yang Hongxu, an analyst with the Shanghai-based E-house China Research and Development Institute, said the May figure has continued April’s downward trend in prices, but the cooling of the market will happen gradually. 

The NBS announced on Tuesday that property developers sold 329.32 million square meters of commercial houses nationwide in the first five months of this year, an increase of only 9.1 percent year-on-year. 

The NBS said that investment in the nation’s property sector has maintained strong growth by rising 34.6 percent year-on-year to reach 1.87 trillion yuan ($288.6 billion) in the January-May period, which might have been a result of affordable housing investment. 

Figures from the NBS also reflected that property developers are getting less funding from banks, as the government continued to raise borrowing costs for developers and tighten liquidity in the market. 

Developers obtained 580.3 billion yuan from domestic loans in the first five months, up 4.6 percent year-on-year. Meanwhile, they used 26.6 billion yuan of foreign investment in the sector, posting a year-on-year rise of 57.3 percent. 


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