Sat, May 19, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Home prices fall in 60% of large Chinese cities

AFP, Shanghai

A Chinese home buyer makes inquiries about a new apartment project on display at a real-estate fair in Yichang, China, yesterday.

Photo: AFP

Prices for new homes in China fell in more than 60 percent of major cities last month from March, the government said yesterday, as moves to curb the property market took effect.

Out of 70 major cities tracked by the government, 43 registered month-on-month falls in house prices last month, although that number was less than the 46 cities recorded in March.

Prices were unchanged in 24 cities last month, while only three cities saw price rises, the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement.

China has implemented several measures aimed at limiting runaway property prices for more than a year, including bans on buying second homes, hiking minimum down-payments and introducing property taxes in certain cities.

Despite worries about the impact on the economy, authorities have shown little sign of easing their tight policies.

“We must firmly strengthen control of the property market ... not allowing the adjustment and control [policy] to be reversed,” a senior housing ministry official said in comments published yesterday in the official Securities Times newspaper.

China recently announced a slew of disappointing economic figures for last month, prompting the government to cut the amount of money banks must keep in reserve in a bid to boost lending — and therefore growth.

Property investment also helps drive growth and land sale revenue is a key source of income for local governments.

However, analysts said little change in government policy was expected in the short term.

“The adjustment of home prices is still in the middle of a long cycle. We expect home prices to remain weak in the coming months,” Nomura Securities chief China economist Zhang Zhiwei (張智威) said.

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