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China Property

Home prices continue to diverge in mainland Chinese cities

Rises recorded in 38 cities last month, with falls in 24

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 February, 2016, 11:22am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 February, 2016, 5:25pm

More than half of mainland Chinese cities saw home prices pick up in January as the central government continued to provide policy support to the sector, with Shenzhen prices skyrocketing almost 53 per cent in a year.

Analysts expect more easing policies to be implemented to stimulate housing demand in an oversupplied market.

China’s central bank chief, Zhou Xiaochuan, sent a positive signal on Friday, saying the government would further encourage individual housing loans and give banks more flexibility on interest rates and down-payment ratios.

In January, among the 70 mainland major Chinese cities tracked by the National Bureau of Statistics, new home prices increased in 38 cities last month, compared with 39 in December. They dropped in 24 cities, and were unchanged in eight.

Gainers continued to be led by Shenzhen, where new home prices climbed 4.1 per cent in a month and a record 52.7 per cent over the past 12 months.

Liu Jianwei, a senior bureau statistician, said the divergence among Chinese cities was continuing.

“Home prices rose quickly in first-tier and some second-tier cities, but fell slightly in third-tier cities,” he said.

This is just a start, there will be more stimulus measures taken by the government to reduce property stock
Xia Dan, Bank of Communications

The central government has strengthened support for the property sector, seen as a pillar of the wider economy, this year.

The sector has been suffering from oversupply, especially in smaller cities, with property investment growth falling to 1 per cent last year, from 10.5 per cent in 2014.

The city with the biggest house price decline in January was Wulumuqi in Xinjiang, which dropped 0.8 per cent in a month.

The central government cut the minimum required mortgage down payment and property taxes to historic lows in most cities this month.

“This is just a start, there will be more stimulus measures taken by the government to reduce property stock,” Xia Dan, an analyst at Bank of Communications wrote in a report on Friday.

Xia added the government was likely to raise individual housing provident fund loan limits and provide further tax benefits such as tax refunds in some cities.

Du Jinsong, head of property research at Credit Suisse, said the government would not allow home prices to fall too fast and would push local governments to make it easier for homebuyers to enter the market.

More than 50 Chinese cities have started providing different kinds of subsides to homebuyers.

Home prices in China’s four top cities, Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, remain strong due to booming demand from immigrants.

“The growth in first-tier cities will ease this year as the population inflow declines and because many rushed to the market last year due to policy easing,” Xia said.

Both Shenzhen and Shanghai are said to be planning to tighten buying restrictions to curb market overheating.

Shanghai issued a new policy this week that requires developers to increase the supply of small and mid-sized units in an effort to increase housing supply.

Shanghai is the second-most expensive housing market on the mainland, behind Shenzhen, with home prices jumping 21.4 per cent year on year last month.

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