The value of private home sales on the mainland last month dropped 13 per cent on the month to 494.6 billion yuan (HK$624.5 billion) after the authorities imposed measures to curb soaring prices.
The transaction value of private home sales fell from 569.4 billion yuan in March, according to calculations using data from the National Bureau of Statistics released yesterday. Last month's figure climbed 69 per cent on a year-on-year basis.
Cities such as Beijing unveiled new measures to cool property prices after the State Council told the authorities to curb speculation. One measure was stricter implementation of a 20 per cent tax on property resales.
About 79.33 million square metres of residential space were sold last month, down 15.7 per cent from the March figure, the figures showed.
Despite the decline in transaction value in most cities last month, Lee Wee Liat, the head of property research at BNP Paribas Securities (Asia), said sales held up well for large developers.
Most developers had achieved more than 30 per cent of their targets for this year by last month, Lee said.
"We expect sales to accelerate further as the sales momentum should be sustained into June on the strong launch pipeline," he said.
"Policy risks have diminished and thus we believe the big developers will record consistent strong sales over the next few months."
For the first four months of the year, total home sales amounted to over 1.69 trillion yuan, up 65.2 per cent year on year. This was slower than a 69 per cent year-on-year growth achieved in the first quarter.
"The new measures will raise the entry barriers for some potential homebuyers as mortgage rates will rise and costs will increase for investors and speculators," Standard & Poor's said in a recent report.
"Nevertheless, the markets have become accustomed to home purchase restrictions for some time now, and we therefore expect buyers to enter the market rather than wait in anticipation that prices could drop.
"As a result, barring any tighter measures to curb the state, owner-occupiers are likely to support stable demand this year."
Saying that the implementation of tighter measures last month put a lid on sales, the ratings agency expected home prices to rise 5 per cent this year.
The National Bureau of Statistics said real estate investment climbed 21.1 per cent to nearly 1.92 trillion yuan in the first four months of the year, less than the 20.2 per cent growth in the first quarter.
Investment in residential projects grew 21.3 per cent in the first four months.