Sun, Feb 19, 2012 - Page 11 News List

China home prices fall as premier says curbs to stay

Bloomberg

A construction worker moves wooden planks at a residential building site yesterday in Hefei, Anhui Province.

Photo: Reuters

China’s home prices last month recorded their worst performance in at least a year, with none of the 70 cities monitored by the government posting gains as Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) reiterated his determination to maintain property curbs.

Prices in 47 of the cities fell, while home values in the remaining 23 were unchanged from December, the National Statistics Bureau said in a statement on its Web site yesterday. New home prices in the nation’s four major cities of Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou declined for a fourth month.

The data reflects a two-year effort by China to battle rising home prices with measures ranging from higher down payments and mortgage rates to home purchase restrictions in 40 cities.

“The falling downtrend of home prices will strengthen in coming months as the government tightening continues,” said Alan Jin, a Hong Kong-based property analyst for at Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd. “The figures won’t prompt the central government to release the curbs anytime soon, because it probably would like to observe and study the market further.”

Wenzhou posted the biggest drop for the third month, with home prices declining by 0.6 percent last month, according to the Statistics Bureau. A credit squeeze on smaller businesses in the city prompted a visit and pledge of financial aid from Wen in October.

New home prices in Beijing and Shanghai declined 0.1 percent, the data showed. Housing values in Shenzhen slid 0.2 percent and dropped 0.3 percent in Guangzhou.

Yesterday’s figures came after private data also showed signs of cooling. China’s average home prices fell for a fifth month in December, according to SouFun Holdings Ltd (搜房網), the country’s biggest real estate Web site.

Home sales in China’s four key cities declined during the week-long Lunar New Year holiday at the end of last month. Transactions in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen fell 66 percent to 109 units, compared with the same holiday period a year earlier, Centaline Property Agency Ltd (中原地產), China’s biggest real-estate brokerage, said on Jan. 30.

Falling home prices fueled an attempt by China’s smaller cities’ to release tightening on property policies. The eastern city of Wuhu was the first Chinese city this year to ease measures ordered by the central government by waiving a deed tax and subsidizing some home purchases. The move was suspended three days later, following the outcome of a similar attempt in October by Foshan in southern China.

China’s property policies are likely to be “phased out” this year as it will hurt real-estate investment and local governments’ economic growth, Liu Li-gang (劉利剛), a Hong Kong-based economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd, said ahead of yesterday’s release.

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